Six months ago I published a piece at Comment Central called ‘Social media and the place (wo)men’ about social media threats to free speech. Since then this topic has become even more pressing, and even more talked about – see, for example, this piece from Alistair Heath in the Telegraph today:
The strategy, for tens of thousands of activists working in digital packs, is to bully, shame and destroy anybody who doesn’t agree with them, who dares to express a different opinion or who fails to signal their virtue appropriately. Ad hominem attacks were once seen as bad form: today they are rationalised using bogus theories.
But commentators still aren’t quite getting what’s going on, so I think what I wrote in that piece is more timely than ever. It isn’t just the online mobs that have brought about the current situation. What we’re seeing is a pincer movement, which has two arms. The Twitter mobs are one arm, but the other is the placemen. Or the placewomen. The place(wo)men, if we’re writing like a pretentious academic.
The left has put a lot of their people into strategic positions in institutions, Universities, charities, companies, government departments, and so on. By ‘strategic’, I don’t necessarily mean the top positions. Big bosses in business these days are often left-leaning, but usually they’re not that left-wing enough to really be bothered with this stuff. They’ve got companies to run. Bosses of charities and government departments, on the other hand, are more in to this stuff themselves. And almost everyone under 50 at a modern University is a Believer. But mostly we’re talking about positions where a talentless leftist can bring influence to bear, such as in the HR department. They’re the ones stifling dissent and setting things up.
Once the setup is ready things can swing into action, with the pretext of a Twitter mob. A Twitter mob gets going — I say ‘mob’, but often it’s just a few people — and the place(wo)men can go into action putting the last piece of the scheme into action. You will have seen this a lot recently, when you see a news story that says “The complaint from a twelve-year-old girl that sparked a massive change in how company X does its business’, or ‘The tweet from an innocent student that led to the downfall of Hollywood star/politician/company director Y’.
The lone tweet mentioned is never the real cause. After all, leftists complain about normal stuff millions of times a day every day on Twitter. No, all the pieces have been put into place beforehand, and then the place(wo)men will look for a suitable tweet to light the blue touchpaper with, to make it look as though this was a completely spontaneous, grassroots thing.
So yes, Twitter mobs have some power. But not as much as you think. It’s the use they’re put to by the place(wo)men that’s the real problem. The pincer movement is where the crushing power lies.
Update: A good, related post at Ace of Spades:
He notes that in the old days, people communicated about these interests [ie. comic books] on message boards. But leftwingers began seeking out moderator positions on these boards, and then would only permit their leftwing friends to become moderators.
Once they were in control of moderation, they began purging every single non-leftwing non-SJW commenter from their sites. Or at least the ones who didn’t learn to be Silent …
Now, why does such a minor thing as comic book message board moderation matters? Well, because at the same time, Social Justice Warriors within the company — hired to appease Social Justice Warrior agitators at Buzzfeed, Jezebel, the Mary Sue, etc. — began agitating to take the company full SJW.
When Marvel started experiencing poor sales, the Social Justice Warriors claimed that turning white characters black, male characters female, and straight characters gay, while filling every story with loads of clumsy, blunt leftwing political messaging, would attract a New, Better, Woker audience and bring sales to new heights.
Now, back to that purge-of-non-SJWs-from-fan-message-boards: When Marvel Comics now looks for evidence about this theory, they naturally look to fan message boards for either support or refutation of the theory.
And what do they find there?
Well, now that the only people permitted to comment there at all are all SJWs, they find that the theory seems to have a lot of support behind it. Why look — on all these comic book message boards, everyone’s just ga-ga for more leftwing politics in superhero comic books!
The higher-ups at Marvel Comics don’t know the secret about why these message boards are all Full-On SJW, and the SJWs within the company don’t share that information with them.
So– Marvel Comics decides, hey, we looked at “the data,” and this SJW Plan sure seems viable!
An update to my last post about Judith Woods’ article about the GCSE system. She says it’s unfair that her daughter had to get a decent mark in maths to get into her preferred sixth-form college, when all she wanted to do was study fine art.
To explain: although my daughter got a fantastic grade in art, which she wants to study, her grade in maths, which she does not want to study, isn’t deemed high enough to gain entry into the sixth form of her choice – to do fine art.
Meanwhile her friend did not get as high a grade in art, which she too wants to study but she got a lot higher in maths, which she does not want to study, and as a result she will be attending that very self same sixth form – to do fine art.
It’s a sort of twisted logic worthy of Lewis Carroll.
Well, no, it may be somewhat unfair, but it isn’t Lewis Carroll, not when you think about things from the college’s point of view. It may be disappointing to this girl, and I do feel for her, and it’s a very imperfect system, but we’re not in Alice in Wonderland territory.
The main point is that she’s not trying to get into art school, where requiring a good grade in maths really wouldn’t make much sense. She’s trying to get into a sixth form college, which will teach fine art as one of many other subjects. The students there, including this girl, if she went, will be doing three to five different subjects a year. So she couldn’t just do fine art, she’s have to some other subjects as well.
Now, a top sixth-form college can afford to be picky about who it lets in. It will want to admit the best students it can, for various reasons. One of these reasons will be that the better students are probably going to be easier to teach. I say ‘probably’ because I found that at University this was generally true, although not always — sometimes a year where the required marks were lower were better to teach than a year where the students had got higher marks. And sometimes the students with the higher marks can be more of a pain in the arse as they expect everything to be done for them, instead of them doing the work. But as a general rule of thumb it’s more likely that the students with the higher marks are the better students to have.
So that means you want students with higher marks, and higher marks across the board, not just a high mark in one thing, Someone who is good at only fine art may be great to teach in fine art, but drags things down in every other class they do. This may not, of course, apply to this particular girl, who may be a joy to teach in her other classes, but we’re talking probabilities here — you go with what’s more likely.
I note that many University courses require a good or decent mark in GCSE Maths, in addition to whatever other requirements they have. Places that add this requirement do it because they think that it helps keep out students who get the required marks in easier A level subjects. This is hardly perfect, and some courses that used to do this no longer do so, and it would certainly be good if some better system could be devised where students who are clever and talented at everything except Maths could still get in, but then things become very messy and complicated, and there’s no guarantee that you’d really achieve the aim of letting in just those students who are clever and talented at everything except Maths and not a lot of other students who won’t be up to it (and exactly who those C&T students are is hard to decide to start with).
This is not to say that I always agree with having these sorts of Maths requirements. I’m not sure they’re always a good idea. But they’re hardly Lewis Carroll. As I said, the top sixth-firm colleges want top students, and requiring a good mark in Maths is a crude and sometimes unfair but generally pretty effective way of ruling out an awful lot of students who aren’t at the level they require.
I do, however, expect that Woods is right in saying that the GCSE system is generally a shambles. It’s the government organising it, so its bound to be.
And I have been somewhat unfair on the parents because at the bottom level it’s really the state that’s to blame for all this tremendous pressure that is being placed on students by their parents. The main reason why middle-class parents, and aspirational working-class parents, are desperate to get their kids into good schools is because the average state school is so badly run, and hamstrung by political correcteness, with little ability to discipline badly-behaved kids. That’s why you have to get your kids into a good school where the kids behave well because they all come from backgrounds where that’s expected. If they end up at an average state school, however, then they’ll face all sorts of disruptions from unruly classmates.
The bright kids may be protected to some degree in subjects that are streamed, but someone like Judith Woods’ daughter, who is only average in some subjects, will have to sit through endless classes that are ruined by bad behaviour, and where the expectations from the teachers are low. I can’t really blame parents for wanting their kids to be spared that.
Judith Woods complains about GCSEs in the Telegraph:
And so, instead of carefully calibrating, then resetting the pendulum, he [Gove] swung it too far in the opposite direction and sucked the joy out of learning.
But she also says:
I paid for tutors and crammer courses. And it was worth it because she passed with a little legroom to spare …
My daughter’s lovely, dedicated maths teacher went beyond the call of duty; early morning classes, late afternoon interventions, …
But as parents we have watched our shining children reduced to tearful wrecks and depressed insomniacs over the past two years by the sheer grinding pressure and volume of work.
While I expect a lot of what she says about the GCSE shambles in the article is true, and she maybe has a point about the maths requirements for the top sixth-firm coleges, you have to think that part of the problem lies with the parents. The reason for making the exams harder is to separate out the brilliant students from the good ones, which hasn’t been happening enough in the past. But an awful lot of parents of good students are refusing to let this stop their children from getting into the brilliant category, so they push and push them to work like dogs so that they still get into the top category.
Well, it’s your family. But you can hardly then turn around and complain that Gove is the one taking the fun out of learning. If you’re the one hiring a tutor for your children then it’s you as well, isn’t it?
I’m all for the pursuit of excellence, and hard work, and pushing your boundaries, and all that malarky, and setting high expectations for your kids, but there comes a point where the pursuit of excellence becomes the degradation of life for no good reason. And it’s worse when it’s not you you’re doing it to, but your children.
The good grammar and private schools all give this advice out, because they know what happens when kids who don’t really have a natural aptitude for learning get in: “Don’t try to push your kids into an environment where they don’t belong by hiring tutors for a year or so beforehand to pass the entrance tests”, as so many parents do. That’s good advice for anyone. Push yourself by all means, but don’t ruin your life to get somewhere you then find you don’t want to be.
According to Spiked Online Corbyn is starting to look like a dangerous leftist with his latest media proposals:
No sooner had excerpts from the Labour leader’s proposals been released in advance than Corbyn’s online fan club were cheering them to the digital rafters, with #ChangeTheMedia trending on Twitter long before he even stood up to speak. That sounded more like a threat than a proposal. What Labour’s plans would really mean is a British form of government-approved journalism produced by a state-sponsored media. No wonder they went down so well with the instinctive Stalinist wing of the Corbynista movement.
It’s not that I disagree. Of course I agree. It’s just that Spiked have been telling us for at least a year that Corbyn is a harmless Swedish-style social democrat, and anyone who takes his hard-left claims seriously is a foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Communist, who’s almost as stupid as Corbyn himself.
Perhaps they’ll eventually put two and two together and realise that the man and his cronies are dangerous virtual Communists. Hopefully before they find their own website banned.
Sainsburys are not doing as well as their supermarket rivals:
Sainsbury’s lagged rivals as the worst performer of the UK’s Big Four supermarkets …
In the 12 weeks to August 12, Sainsbury’s sales grew just 1.2pc, compared with a 3.5pc average across all the grocers.
Why are Sainsburys underperforming? Well, this doesn’t help:
A WHOLE 10P OFF RYVITA RYE CRISPBREAD! TO USE WITHIN TWO WEEKS. Forget the other supermarkets, I’m going to drive five miles out of my way next time to use Sainsburys just so I can get 10p off Ryvita rye crispbread. I might even leave work early to make sure I get there before the rush.
Admittedly it’s not a product I ever buy, it’s not a product I even like much, but who can argue with 10p? Not to mention the offer of 20p off unsalted butter. Sure I don’t use unsalted butter, but that’s twice as much off as the crispbread offer.
For me the moment when Sainsburys went downhill was when they stopped stocking classier products and started doing more of their own mediocre home brand stuff. (I can’t remember when this was, though. Five years ago? Eight?) At that point a lot of middle-class people switched to Waitrose because they had more snob appeal, but Sainsburys couldn’t compete with Tesco or Asda on the cheap front either.
(I used to like Sainsburys’ petrol offers, 4p a litre off, they were good value, but with the markup on petrol so slim to start with there was no way they could ever sustain that.)
Update: I may go back just to see what other ludicrous offers they can come up with. 5p off gluten-free spinach-flavoured haggis? 8p off fat-free porridge? 50p off lichen-and-masala shampoo?
A bit of good news to cheer us all up:
Oliver’s bid to extend his publishing phenomenon into a global restaurant empire has so far failed and instead cost him millions in cash and reams of bad headlines around the world, especially in his native Britain as well as in Australia.
Last time I said anything negative about Jamie Oliver (on Twitter) hundreds of restaurant people went berserk at myself and Christopher Snowdon (who had also made fun of him). So let me say here that I don’t wish to see anyone lose their jobs, but I would like to see all these people employed by a better restauranter than Oliver.
I’ve never had a good meal in a Jamie Oliver restaurant. And I’ve never met anyone else who has. And the fact is that there are too many middle-of-the-road restaurants chains like his for the market. They can’t all survive. But I like the fact that Jamie Oliver is paying for a lot of people out of his own pocket. It’s part-payback for Turkey Twizzlers.
Comedian and actor Helen Lederer is angry because she’s not famous:
“There’s a lot of anger,” says Helen Lederer, blue eyes blinking beneath her trademark blonde fringe. “I’m sat on a lot of bitterness.” …
“I had a genuine belief that, because I had a passion for stand-up, writing and performing, that I’d just write my own sitcom and be in it.
Somehow I didn’t get my own sitcom either, and I bet the scripts I wrote were were funnier than hers. But she seems to think it’s somehow her due, and the writer of the article tries to make out that it’s the fault of men that she didn’t make it big. Yet tens of thousands of male writers, comedians and actors have the same experience. Unfortunately they just have to accept it, and make do the best they can.
That’s actually the case for men in general. For thousands of years most men have been nobodies, failures, unacknowledged geniuses, journeymen, teamplayers, underpromoted, underappreciated, etc. And they just had to put up with that. They had to learn to live with failure, or at least with disappointment, and put up with the taste of sour dreams in their head every night. That’s just part of life for most men.
Then women decided that they wanted careers too. They too wanted to chase success in the workforce. But that meant most of them having to put up with disappointment, just like men had to. And most women were fine at this. Until, that is, modern feminism came along and told them that they were all entitled to be CEOs and Presidents and heads of departments and best-selling authors and movie stars and Professors and generally be fawned over all the time, which was bad enough, but what was worse was that it told them that if they didn’t get those things then instead of having to accept it, like men did, they should shout and bang drums and whine endlessly about how it’s all the fault of the patriarchy.
And Lederer can’t really complain anyway:
this month Lederer has been performing a one-woman routine every day at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the first time in 14 years, hosting a chat show, and making endless radio appearances on channels from LBC to the BBC.
The woman has been positively locked in chains in a dungeon.
There’s also this feminist bilge in the article:
“Popular women’s books are written off as Chick Lit, but no novel by a man has ever been dismissed as Dick Lit,” Allison Pearson wrote in these pages two months ago.
Ah yes, I remember when I sent my novel to agents — 95% of whom were women, with a large majority of women on their list — and how they all told me that my book was good because I was a man, and that I would be published forthwith, as long as I really was a man, and not a woman in disguise.
(Amazing how Alison Pearson manages to ignore all those male authors who entertain the public but who are sneeringly dismissed by the literary establishment as writers of potboilers and penny dreadfuls.) And here’s Marion Keyes, quoted in the same article:
“Male voices are automatically given extra weight… Anything that’s been said or done by a woman just matters less,” lamented Keyes.
Keyes seems to have somehow missed the whole of last forty years.
Anyway, your fears about male power in the comedy fiction world, which I know keep you awake at night, are at an end, because Lederer has created the Comedy Women in Print award:
And so, Lederer is seeking to redress the balance with CWIP, through which the winner will receive a place on the University of Hertfordshire’s Creative Writing course and £1,000 if they are as yet unpublished, or £2,000 if their work has previously been in print.
“This is a passion project, it’s not a money earner for me,” explains Lederer
It’s not about me, says Lederer. Yet somehow she gets a whole newspaper article about her out of it that could have been written by her agent, and her name is prominently displayed on the front page of the award webpage. And her contribution is, at most, £2000, and probably nothing in reality, because The Telegraph and Pegasus Life are listed as sponsors. Yes, that same Telegraph that is running this story. And the University of Hertfordshire is also listed as a sponsor, so I assume they’re waiving the fees, rather than Lederer paying them out of her own pocket.
£2000 is less than you’d pay a publicist to get you in the papers these days. £0 certainly is. Well played Helen, well played.
Update: Perhaps I’ll start up my own award: The Right-Wing Men in Comedy Fiction Award. Sponsored by… possibly The Spectator, but in reality it’ll probably turn out to be the kebab shop up the road. Winner gets a free lunch with Toby Young who’ll talk about himself for an hour. Runner-up gets… to listen to me talk about comedy after I’ve had a few pints?
In the comments to yesterday’s post about Ian Hislop’s article Sam Duncan says:
“It was HL Mencken, the great American satirist, who said we should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”
No it wasn’t. It was Finley Peter Dunne, and it wasn’t an instruction or recommendation; he was mocking the self-importance of newspapers and the journalists who wrote for them.
Mencken did say that “What men value in this world is not rights but privileges,” though. Which seems somehow appropriate.
Further research indicates that Sam is right. It wasn’t Mencken. It always seemed to me odd that Mencken had (supposedly) said this, because I’ve read a lot of Mencken, and it didn’t sound right.
I also like this quote from David Baddiel that I came across (not that I trust him entirely either):
To those quoting satire should comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable I say: satirists shouldn’t have to be high-minded to live.
Regarding my post from last week about Lenin’s Red Terror (which he made no effort to hide, and every effort to publicize to the public at large), you may be wondering whether any of Lenin’s colleagues opposed the Red Terror? The answer is no.
It is difficult to convey the vehemence with which Communist leaders at this time called for the spilling of blood. It was as if they vied to prove themselves less “soft”, less “bourgeois” than the next man … Not one of the leaders of the Bolshevik Party and Government, including those later eulogized as the “conscience of the Revolution”, objected publicly to these atrocities, let alone resigned in protest. Indeed, they gave them support: thus, on the Friday following the shooting of Lenin, the top Bolshevik leaders fanned out over Moscow to defend the government’s policies. (Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution 1899-1919, Fontana, 1990, p. 820-1.)
This wasn’t because the Bolshevik top brass were frightened of Lenin. They had rebelled against him quite a few times over various issues, especially his signing of the Brest-Litsov peace treaty with Germany. At this stage of Communist rule the other top Communists didn’t have much to fear, even if lower-down Communists didn’t dare go against Lenin. No, they didn’t go against him on this because they all had the same desire: to erase the lives of anyone they saw as not fitting into their new Utopia.
But what about Trotsky? Wasn’t he a good guy? Don’t make me laugh. He was one of the most ruthless of all the revolutionaries:
Lenin’s associates now vied with each other in using language of explicit brutality to incite the population to murder and to make murder committed for the cause of the Revolution appear noble and uplifting. Trotsky, for instance, on one occasion warned that if any of the ex-Tsarist officers whom he drafted into the Red Army behaved treasonably, “nothing will remain of them but a wet spot” (Pipes, 817)
Private Eye editor Ian Hislop pens a rare article of defence of offensive jokes in The Telegraph, but if this is the best that can be said in favour free speech in comedy, then we’re in trouble.
There is a wave of earnestness about at the moment … people saying jokes about certain topics aren’t acceptable, saying humour isn’t helpful, saying “I am offended by this, and therefore you should shut up.” It’s all rather puritan.
I’m inclined to disagree. No topic should be out of bounds, so long as you can justify the point behind it. I have spent most of my life joking about serious things, and I believe humour can be helpful, especially when important issues are at stake.
Okay, but what about when humour isn’t helpful?
It might not bring a government down, but mockery can crystallise an opinion. Daniel Defoe said the end of satire is reform. He didn’t say it’s revolution, or armed protest. Rather, he thought you could make people behave better by laughing them into it, and that’s still an aspiration.
This is starting to sound like “offensive humour is acceptable, so long as it has a moral purpose”.
I don’t defend all jokes. There was a phase when it was popular for stand-up comics to have a go at disabled people. As an audience member, I thought, “I don’t understand that. Why is that funny?” You’re meant to be punching up, not punching down. It’s that universal desire to punch up – to blow a raspberry at the powerful – that unites everything from the defaced Babylonian brick to the fake British banknote.
It was HL Mencken, the great American satirist, who said we should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. So long as you try and do that, you have a licence to joke about almost anything.
Now, I don’t like jokes about disabled people myself, at least not if they’re cruel. I’m not saying that we should give TV shows to comedians (bearded Scots or otherwise) who do this. But this defence worries me. (It also worries me that Hislop can’t think of any more original way to finish his article than to make the same tired reference to that same old quote of Mencken that a million other writers have made — the whole thing reads like a reheated version of one of Hislop’s school newspaper article from the 70s — but that’s an issue for another day.)
The reason Hislop’s defence worries me is that it’s very close to saying that jokes are okay as long as they’re the right sort of jokes, directed at the right sort of people, for the right sort of purpose. Which is pretty much what a lot of powerful people are currently saying about Boris’s Johnson’s mild little jibe against current female towelhead fashion. And who decides what the right sort of target is? At the moment it’s the progressive Establishment and their sidekicks, the SJW Twitter mob, who are busy trying to assert their right to decide that. So what we end up with is a justification for mob bullying, and an excuse to suppress jokes.
What’s missing from Hislop’s moralistic justification of humour, which is fine as far as it goes, is that it lacks any notion of freedom. Let’s change “So long as you try and do that, you have a licence to joke about almost anything” to “As a free citizen you have a licence to joke about almost anything”. That doesn’t mean other people have to like your jokes, or that they can’t criticize them. But it does mean that other people shouldn’t try to ruin your life for a little mild bit of religious humour.
Hislop also remains silent about the fact that Have I Got News For You made the same jokes as Boris Johnson did. (Well, the real purpose of Hislop’s piece is that he’s shilling for a museum exhibition he’s curating; he’s not really interested in mounting any great defence of humorous speech.) Are those jokes no longer acceptable? Or are some jokes only allowed to be made by the right sort of people? What we’re seeing now isn’t so much as a clampdown on free speech, but clampdown of speech by people on the wrong side of the political fence. The recent attack on Johnson, for instance, is a naked partisan political attack, and nothing more.
Meanwhile Hislop’s self-aggrandizing defence of humour, the sort of defence you’d expect from a man lionised for decades for running an over-praised satirical magazine that’s now very much a part of the Establishment, helps the powerful, and does nothing to afflict it.
Literally (in 1918):
Here is Zinoviev addressing a gathering of Communists two weeks after the launching of the Red Terror: “We must carry along with us 90 million out of the 100 million of Soviet Russia’s inhabitants. As for the rest, we have nothing to say to them. They must be annihilated.” These words, by one of the highest Soviet officials, was a sentence of death on 10 million human beings.
And here is the organ of the Red Army inciting the populace to pogroms:
Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies by the scores of hundreds, let them be thousands, let them drown themselves in their own blood. For the blood of Lenin and Uritskii… let there be floods of blood of the bourgeoisie – more blood, as much as possible.
(Richard Pipes, The Russian Revolution 1899-1919, Fontana, 1990, p. 820.)
This was not how things operated under Stalin, or Hitler:
The Stalinist and Nazi holocausts were carried out with much greater decorum. Stalin’s “kulaks” and political undesirables, sentenced to die from hunger and exhaustion, would be sent to “correction camps”, while Hitler’s Jews, en route to gas chambers, would be “evacuated” or “relocated”. The early Bolshevik terror, by contrast, was carried out in the open. Here there was no flinching, no resort to euphemisms, for this nationwide Grand Guignol was meant to serve educational purposes by having everyone — rulers as well as ruled — bear responsibility and hence develop an equal interest in the regime’s survival. (Pipes, 820)
It was probably also due to the Leninists’ belief that the worldwide Communist revolution was nigh, so they didn’t have to worry that much about how they were coming across to the rest of the world. In fact
the Communist press published a running account from the provinces on the progress of the Red Terror, column after column of reports of executions … [The Cheka Weekly] regularly carried summaries of executions, neatly arranged by provinces, as if they were the results of regional football matches. (Pipes, 820)
I’ve never been one to spend a fortune on new tech when I know that within a year or two the price will drop dramatically. (I know someone who spent hundreds of pounds on a Bluray player when they first came out, and within a year the price had dropped enormously.) And I’m not much of a movie buff any more. So it wasn’t until last year that I finally got around to getting a Bluray player. Bought a Bluray movie at Christmas for the kids, and it wasn’t until this Easter that we decided to sit down and watch it.
But could we have a nice time watching the movie? No, of course not. Suffering must be involved. The Bluray, a Sony, did all sorts of funny things. Hours of internet research were involved to see if we could fix the problem. Eventually we discovered that you have to try a software upgrade, that’s the only possible solution, but that will either fix the problem, or brick the unit, and the latter is more likely. An hour later we were left with a bricked unit and all our hair pulled out in clumps on the floor.
Fast forward to this summer. A death in the family had left us in possession of another Bluray player. Another Sony, but a bigger and better-looking unit. Will this work? Put the Bluray in, and we’re told that this unit cannot play this Bluray movie because this movie is too new and is incompatible with this unit’s OS. (It does say on a little sticker in the movie case that you need the latest software to play the movie, but of course you don’t see that when you’re buying it.)
So after much faffing about we connect it to the internet and try updating it, which by a miracle does work, although I noticed that the latest OS was from a couple of years ago. My overly-optimistic wife says, ‘Finally the problem is fixed and we can watch this movie’. But my fears were borne out: this movie is still to new for the OS.
But at least we can play other, older, movies on it, right? No, because a week later it the word ‘WAIT’ started flashing on it non-stop, and it no longer works. I could spend a few more hours on the internet trying to track down the issue, and maybe fix it, or maybe not, and I’m normally good at that sort of thing, but I just thought, why bother? And why bother buying another Bluray player if we can’t get it working?
They’re not expensive any more, but they’re still at least £60. Most movies aren’t worth watching. I don’t have many Bluray discs. I don’t even have that many DVDs. We have more movies on the computer that we have downloaded from Amazon than we have on disc. Why not just take the opportunity to dump all that, like a lot of people have dumped music CDs for downloads? It’s not like I enjoy having the physical movie, like I enjoy having a physical record or CD. I usually throw away the cases because they take up so much room, and put the discs in one of those multi-disc wallets. Also, why would I want to spend £60 just to play one £10 movie?
The other thing that has always annoyed me about DVDs and Blurays is the amount of time is takes to get them going. Blurays are often glacial in starting up. Ads and piracy warnings and menus all drive me nuts. If I pay for a movie I want the movie, not ads for other movies. I don’t pay money to be lectured. Downloads don’t have any of that rubbish. And they don’t get scratched. And they don’t fill up all the space in your your loungeroom or spare room or loft (I knew someone whose whole loungeroom was filled with videocassettes, about 1% of which he ever watched again).
So it’s goodbye to the disc from me.
Update: I would add that I’ll never buy Sony ever again, but I’ve said that about products from just about every other major electronics company, and if I stuck to that I’d never be able to buy any electronic unit ever again. But I do think the heydey of Sony is long gone. The Trinitron, after all, was a long time ago.
Update 2: After a few days unplugged it’s no longer flashing ‘WAIT’ any more, so possibly it’s working agan now. But it’s too late. I’m no longer going to buy any discs for it.
Of course computers have their own problems, but I have to keep a few up-and-running in the house anyway.
I’ve been saying for a while that it looks like the old political lines in Britain are changing. Many others have said this too, of course. One of the best recent statements of this sort of thinking, one that I find very cogent, comes from Michael St George at his blog A Libertarian Rebel (shorter version published here at The Conservative Woman).
The UK appears on the cusp of a major political re-alignment, which will render prior labels redundant. The old labels and allegiances have broken down: we need fresh labels reflecting the new allegiances which are forming, coalescing around commonalities of interest hitherto unimagined.
Alliances involve compromises. All political parties involve compromises, because all political parties are collections of factions who have temporarily come together and put aside their differences in order to achieve some common aim. That commonality is fast disappearing in the case of the Labour Party, as the hard left drives out the moderates.
The Tory party is also being split apart, not just over Brexit, but also over political correctectness, because the current Tory leadership is siding with the modern PC Establishment. What used to unite the likes of Jacob Rees Mogg and Anna Soubry and keep them on the same side no longer exists.
Personally I would rather go into alliance with the old working class. I have little in common politically any more with the Tory high priests who want a European elite to run the UK, and run it along New Labour lines. Politically speaking I get on better with patriotic, non-PC, Brexit-voting working class.
Of course, I don’t like their desire to soak the rich. I don’t like their desire to nationalise many industries. But I have to compromise, because there is no majority support for the sort of conservative/libertarian party I’d like. And those are the compromises I’d prefer to make at the moment. I’ll put up with the semi-socialism, for the time being, in order to keep the country away from the Eurocrats, to help wrest back control of our culture back from the PC, anti-free speech zealots (you get plenty of socialism with them anyway, so it’s not like we can easily avoid that), and get back control of immigration.
Later on there will have to be a fight about redistribution. But now is not the time. Now is the time to get rid of the soft fascism speading across the land. Now is the time to get rid of Theresa May as Tory leader, and drain the Establishment swamp.