Monday, 28 January 2013

Brazil's nightclub fire

If you have not read about the recent news about the fire in a nightclub that killed more than 200 people and 80 more hospitalized, READ HERE

What is eerie to read was that there were 180 bodies found in the toilet as the victims thought that was the exit sign.

The first time I read about the news yesterday, it reminded me of the Holocaust. True enough, it was reported that the policemen removing the bodies felt the same way. I know a lot about the Holocaust because there was a Holocaust museum in Washington DC which I visited. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to visit museums as that was the only museum I felt had meaning. I learnt so much and felt so much after spending half a day in the Holocaust museum.

Another sad thing about the fire was that most of them were 20 year old university students - future doctors, veteranians, etc May those young students RIP.

Snowmageddon

 
[This piece was written by me for the ACIS Tours website, for an American audience]

It's been snowing in Britain this week! You could hardly miss it if you were here: on Saturday four out of the five most read stories on the BBC related to the impending white doom that was crossing the country.
 
My part of the country was one of the worst hit: we had a good 4 inches of snow. Oh... it's almost as though I can sense your laughing at that last statement. Please, allow me to explain this whole issue to an American audience!

The stereotype goes that the British are obsessed with the weather. Such generalisations often, of course, exist for a reason. Many people here find social situations a little awkward and it's the most familiar thing in the world to fall back on a discussion about the weather. I've done it myself: there's a slightly difficult pause as I'm getting my hair cut and I comment on the terrible rain we've been having, or the lovely bit of sunshine last weekend. It's familiar territory, it's safe and we know the parameters of the discusssion. Nothing remotely embarrassing can occur.

I've heard it said that it's not just the fact the topic is safe that makes us so interested in the weather; it is because we don't have any of it. We're a generally mild little island sheltered by the gulf stream, and don't have natural extremes of weather. When it rains a little more than normal, or the temperature pushes above 75F/25C (I'm not joking) it's deemed worthy of serious comment. Newspapers begin to roll out the "heatwave" or "Blistering London is hotter than Athens!" headlines (or wherever they can find that's usually warm, but happens to be having a coolish day). We don't usually have natural disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes (the last one we did have, October 1987 is etched in my memory as a majorly significant event from my youth). The slightest deviation from the norm is discussed. Put simply, we love the drama of it.

Oscar Examines the Snow. Finds it's 4' deep.

Therefore when it SNOWS, the British go crazy. The first thing that occurs is a delightful, almost childish excitement about it. Twitter is full of people upset that it hasn't snowed yet where they are. I've seen grown-up adults crying "I want snow!". Then the entire transport system disintegrates. Roads are blocked, trains are cancelled, schools are closed, and earnest well-meaning messages go out warning people to carry spades in their cars and thermos flasks. "Do not travel unless absolutely essential" is the refrain. Bear in mind that unless we are talking about parts of Scotland, this chaos is ensuing with literally 2-4 inches of snow on the ground and temperatures no colder by day than 25F/ -4C. I should mention in passing the Scots, who get snow more regularly, tend to be better prepared and just get on with things.

This, which was circulating on Twitter, is a joke (obviously) but it sums up the mood brilliantly:



We just adore it. My Twitter feed is full of pictures of the snow: gardens in the snow, dogs in the snow, cars in the snow, dustbins covered by snow, train cancellation boards (because of the snow). People tweet their locations with an indicator of how heavily it is snowing, so there is a real time record of where Snowmageddon has hit. The BBC actually had a "live snow blog" up last weekend. What could they possibly hope to report on a rolling basis? I've no idea, but people read it and watched the weather reports as if were literally the most important thing in the world. Australian and South African friends look on in total bafflement. As my Swiss friend, Rose, put it: "The UK is the only country where there is snow. Ever. In the whole world."

Next come all the criticisms. Roads aren't gritted properly. Stockpiles of grit are running "dangerously low" (or we are assured that stocks are "holding up"). The country has fallen to pieces. Why are flights being cancelled? We're a joke: how does Canada, Finland or Switzerland manage? Then comes the defensiveness: well, they are used to lots of snow. We don't get much, so it's no surprise this happens. That argument works to a point, but would be more convincing if it didn't happen every single year. After a couple of days people complain about the same snow they had looked forward to SO very much. "Fed up now. Wish this would go." Etc, etc.

A British snowpocalypse generally lasts a week. It can be much less, with all the fuss over in just one day. The press will herald its passing with headlines such as "NEXT COMES THE BIG THAW" and there will be flood warnings everywhere.  This local headline even set up a gallery of the few roads that were flooded, which will last in most places for a day.



Finally everything is back to normal. The UK is mild, it is green again, and it is damp. The drama of the snow has passed. All we have to look forward to are the newspaper reports on the few warm days at the end of March "that the UK is hotter than Madrid!". It will then rain, pretty much for the entire summer, until September when three sunny days in a row are heralded as an "Indian Summer".

Naturally, and in summary, it's so easy to mock the Brits for all this. I grew up in Germany, which gets much more snow and doesn't collapse in the same way. However, I'll also remark that the childish delight with which the arrival of snow is greeted in the UK is incredibly endearing. There aren't many occasions when an adult is permitted socially to revert to this state of excitement and wonder. As ever, and as the "Met Office" image above displays, matters are generally conducted with a healthy dose of humour and self-mockery. We KNOW we're rubbish at the weather, we KNOW we are obsessed by it, and frankly we don't really care.

In my opinion, by a long way the best thing about Britain are its inhabitants. If you haven't been you should come and visit us. Just, whatever happens, make sure it's not on one of the few days a year it actually snows here. You'll think you've landed on another planet. It might even be partially white.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Last week

The days are passing by so fast. Someone told me our minutes are actually shorter now than last time due to the Earths something something which means we do not exactly have 24 hours in a day now. We have less! I'd like to believe that fact because it really feels like time passes by really quickly nowadays. Even the snow melts so fast in Glasgow.

Last week was great.

I organised a small birthday celebration for two of my friends. Coincidentally they were both January babies born two days apart. So, just maybe, friends I'd like to keep are Capricorns. I believe in horoscopes. Sometimes reading things about myself, a Virgo, makes me understand myself more. Anyway, I made egg tarts as a birthday cake. Thankfully I lived near supermarkets because I realized I was not in KL, meaning I didn't have a single candle or matchsticks here.


The egg tarts turned out alright I guess since my friends each ate two or three of it :D


Few days ago I attended Malaysian Night. It was great effort by everyone who organized it. Who knew trying to make teh tarik could have been so messy. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the games. The food prepared were pretty good. I contributed by cooking curry chicken. Making curry chicken using three whole chicken sounded like a pretty tough job but it was actually the fastest and easiest thing to make. Very minimal washing up too :) Other people were making ondeh-ondeh, curry puffs etc. The guy who was in charge of frying had to stand in front of the stove for 6 hours to cook all the curry puffs!! I salute him!

What else... it snowed yesterday. The longest one, but it rained after that so everything melted on the same day.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Buble's Havent Met You Yet

The song Haven't Met You Yet by Michael Buble was always a nice song to listen to.
Today I read that he and his wife are having a baby and the article wrote this song was actually written for his wife. Besides that, his wife was also in the video clip for this song.

I watched the video clip again after reading the article and somehow the song sounded even better because I know all this :)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Deceiving winter

What snow? what blizzard?
Even the weather forecast for Glasgow could not predict the winter weather for this city. So many times it was forecast to snow, but it has not happened much.

Yesterday, The pathway outside my place was salted for the big freeze today. But at the end of today, the man who salted it was sweeping the salt away because the snow never came to Glasgow. LOL

The sky outside looked perfect for a walk outside. Sunshine with no rain. But once we stepped out, the cold made us shiver. The more we walk, the more the cold bites. Our cheeks felt sore, our fingers were numb, and it was too cold to talk. Not forgetting the occasional gust of wind that comes. Stay home :)


Easy Books

We all complain when customer service isn't up to scratch, but I'd just like to give an example of the opposite.

I use Easy Books on my MacBook to keep the accounts for our company.  I find it really incredibly easy to use: it's intuitive, user-friendly and very much fits the Mac ethos.  It's also superb that they offer an iOS platform, so my co-director can have real time access to the accounts on his iPhone or iPad.  They're a UK based company and developer.



Twitter: How To Do It

Today I followed the update instructions to download new software.  On trying to use the product, it then crashed whenever I tried to add a transaction.  This is incredibly frustrating: I had a load of transactions to update and the whole product was effectively useless.  You know how "hair tearing" it can be when you want to get a task done and you aren't able to.

I therefore went onto the support part of the Easy Books website and sent a message on Twitter.  This was at 15.21.  They responded exactly one minute later at 15.22.  They told me how to get in touch on the site.  I had actually already registered an issue and provided my email.  Personal emails, addressing me as "Peter" arrived at 15.31, 15.33 and 15.41, to get to the bottom of the issue. 

At 16.13 I had another personal email to let me know the issue had been solved and that a new version of the software was available.  I downloaded it and the problem is indeed solved.  The problem applied just to the Lion version of Mac OS that I'm running.  Here's the exchange:




This is genuinely superb support.  They don't just have a Twitter presence to broadcast mindlessly as many companies do.  They clearly do tweet about their product, but they also react (rapidly), interact with you on Twitter and produce a solution.  You deal with two named people by email: Matthew and Karen.

Couldn't Be Happier

I couldn't be happier with all this.  If you want an excellent Mac Based accounts system (for businesses or private accounts) that's extremely affordable, easy to use and has this Rolls-Royce level of support, you know where to go:  http://easybooksapp.com/

Kudos to Easy Books!



[Disclaimer I'm in no way related to this product as my regular readers will know: this is a genuine customer recommendation]


Thursday, 17 January 2013

Kimberley Walsh - One day I will Fly away

Pretty Kimberley Walsh makes her solo debut with a new video for the song One Day I Fly Away. I think she is a pretty good singer. If you did not know, she is from the girl group Girls Aloud. The same group as Cheryl Cole.
Hmm i cant put Vevo videos here.
Watch it here: DAILYMAIL

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Art of Self-Loathing

Can a Jew make anti-Semitic remarks?  Can a gay man be a homophobe?  The idea seems oxymoronic or laughable.  Sadly, however, I've seen them both in action of late on Twitter.   The next question is whether the person is somehow excused from making the comment, just because he or she belongs to the group?  Is it a "get out Jail free" card to mock Jews for having "big noses" because you are Jewish; or to characterise other gay men as "uppity, in-your-face, camp-as-tits-faggots who'll rape you as soon as look at you" because you are gay?
 
Jewish anti-Semitism

Jewish anti-Semitism goes back a long way.  In the 12th century Benjamin of Tuleda records in his "Travels of Benjamin" animosity towards Jews from the Greeks of Constantinople.  Wealthy Jewish merchants explained this to Benjamin by blaming poor, "filthy" Jewish tanners for the problem.  It's a classic example of victims ignoring the actual roots of hatred directed at them, and instead focusing their dislike and anger on poorer elements of their own community.  Rather than challenge the endemic Christian anti-Semitism, the merchants accept the prejudices, differentiate between themselves and other Jews, and indulge in their own Jewish anti-Semitism.   

This can neatly be summarised some 700 years later by the Austrian Jewish writer Max Nordau.  He wrote in 1896 "It is the greatest triumph of anti-Semitism that is has brought the Jews to view themselves with anti-Semitic eyes."



The concept gained widespread modern recognition after the publication in 1930 of the book Der J├╝dische Selbsthass ("Jewish Self-hatred") by German Jew Theodor Lessing.   He explained in his book the phenomenon of intellectual Jews who regarded Judaism as a source of evil in the world, and who incited physical anti-Semitism against other Jews.

Another example of the phenomenon struck me reading the diaries of Professor Victor Klemperer.  Klemperer, from Dresden, wrote the only complete set of diaries of a German Jew during the Third Reich.  In an entry of 10 January 1939, Klemperer brings up and actually implicity accepts the Nazi concept of the "Jewish Question".  He rejects it explicitly with reference to atheist, assimilated Jews such as himself, but acknowledges there is an issue with the Yiddish speaking "Ostjuden" or Jews who have immigrated from Eastern Europe.  That he should accept this anti-Semitic Nazi concept on any level, having suffered at their hands, just months before the beginning of WW2, is extraordinary.

One of the leading experts on this phenomenon is Kenneth Levin, clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  I understand the basic idea is that the victimised accept on some level the attacks of, and develop empathy with, their abusers.  This may be a manifestation of chronic low self-esteem: you are in effect accepting that you deserve to be attacked.

"Bigotry and Big Noses"

To me, there is absolutely no question that Jews can mock, dislike, or even actively hate and wish harm on other Jews as a category.  Taking a step back, this is no more exceptional than suggesting human beings can hate other human beings.  Just because you belong to any group does not mean you like, defend or feel empathy towards the other members of it.

Some would disagree and get really quite agitated about this logic.  Look at these recent outbursts from Milo Yiannopoulos (aka @Nero, the founder of the troubled technology/gossip magazine The Kernel):

It's a bit "loopy" to suggest a Jew can be anti-Semitic

Again the excuse "I'm Jewish" so can't be anti-Semitic

It's "mental" to say a Jew can be anti-Semitic 

I assume Milo has not heard of Benjamin of Tuleda, Nordau, Klemperer or Levin.  There's no crime in that, of course.

Also, in his favour, it should be explained that Milo isn't the happiest little soul at the moment.  The background to these tweets is that he is reacting very aggressively to a piece written about him and posted by Max Dunbar which Milo claims is libelous.  The post sets out offensive, threatening emails allegedly sent by Milo to a writer at the Kernel who wasn't paid.  It mentions his non-payment of bills to other writers at the magazine, which is a recurring theme the Guardian has picked up on.  A lot of journalists and photographers are extremely unhappy about the Kernel's apparent repeated refusal to pay its contributors.  An award of over £16,000 was made just yesterday by a tribunal, for example, to the journalist Jason Hesse against Sentinel Media Limited t/a Kernel Magazine.  If unpaid, enforcement action could include a winding up petition against Sentinel and depending on his actions, personal liability on behalf of its sole director, Milo.

Despite all this, what seems to have upset Milo the most in the post is the comment "He doesn’t like lesbians, very much it seems.  Then we might take his view on Jews."  There follows a link to this thread of tweets:


Jews' characteristics include "bigotry and big noses".  Is this an offensive, stereotypical and (extremely unoriginal) anti-Semitic comment?  In my opinion it is.  Milo states his faith as Roman Catholic elsewhere, but during this exchange he has repeatedly said that he is a Jew.  This is presumably by virtue of birth.  As we have seen, he claims this prima facie entirely anti-Semitic tweet cannot be so, simply because the author is Jewish.  Plenty would disagree.

Like any other form of prejudice, Jewish anti-Semitism can be subtle and one-off (I'm sure Professor Klemperer would not have categorised himself as anti-Semitic), or it can be overt and repeated.  One anti-Semitic comment obviously does not however make someone an anti-Semite.  Despite Milo's repeat attempts to characterise it as otherwise, the post on Max Dunbar's did not actually say that, and simply pulled him up on this one mocking anti-Jewish comment.

Iron Crosses and Hitler Biographies

The Iron Cross dates back to 1813.  It is a Prussian medal first awarded by King Frederick William III during the Napoleonic Wars.  It was reintroduced during three wars of German aggression: the Franco-Prussian war, the First World War and finally by a Reich decree on 1 September 1939.  This was the very day that Nazi forces invaded Poland, that the subjugation of the people of Eastern Europe began, and the foundation stones for the genocide of the Jewish people were laid.

Iron Cross Decree: 1 September 1939

The Iron Cross is the very embodiment of German militarism, and for many people they think of it as one of the core symbols of the Nazi period.  Hitler himself was awarded the Iron Cross, Classes 1 and 2. 


Therefore the Iron Cross is perhaps not the type of thing you'd expect to see most young Jews embracing and wearing.  Nonetheless, above is an interesting shot of 22 year old Milo Wagner (as Yiannopoulos was then calling himself) wearing one during the summer of 2006.  It's from a publicly available Flickr account (see postscript) in a set called "Me".  Is it actually Milo?  Well yes of course it is.  Here's a head shot this time, with the same shirt and the earphones. 


Anyone would think he'd be ashamed to be identified with this symbol of German and Nazi Third Reich militarism and that's why he cropped his head from the photo.  Now, if we scroll back past four pictures of Milo posing in some public toilets (entitled "Railway Toilets I, II, III, IV") on the same photo stream, we come to this picture of some Hitler biographies:



The Kershaw biographies are standard reads for students of the Third Reich.  I'm glad Milo is looking through them: they are an excellent study into what an evil philosophy Nazism was.  He may even have educated himself on the Reich decree of 1 September 1939 and what the Iron Cross represents. 

Given there are just 30 pictures in this photo stream, mainly of Milo's face, I'm genuinely not sure what exactly he is trying to say by assembling the images of the Iron Cross and the Hitler biographies together.  Oh, and are those actually Milo's hands?  Well judging by the ring it certainly looks like a match.  The photo below is taken from the same photo stream by Milo Wagner entitled "Me":

Same type of ring, same finger, similar hands.

UPDATE:  This image has just come to light that was reposted by Milo (top left) in 2009.  


If this were Twitter, one could defensively claim that "RTs aren't endorsements".  Whether one's employers, for example, would see it like that is a different matter of course.



However, the image is not from Twitter.  It is from a now defunct service called "Popjam".  There when you "RT"d something, it had an explicit point: that you thought people would find it funny.  It wasn't like Twitter where people will RT vicious things said to them in order to shame someone, for instance.  On Popjam, it was all about the LOLs. That's the key point. "See this image, laugh like I'm doing." Not "see this image, be revolted by it" or "see this image, consider its truth."  You actually scored points for getting LOLs on Popjam.

If you'd like an explanation of Popjam ("Ever get bored of endlessly surfing around the net, looking for LOLs") just click here.  The short little piece is by none other than Milo Yiannopoulos.  It was written before the Telegraph parted company with him, following the posting of the image.

If you look at the bottom of the image there is a LOL button.  At the top you can see it was reposted by Milo.  Milo claims that he flagged it as inappropriate.  He says that it is "misrepresenting" he actions to suggest otherwise.

How odd, then, that this search (scroll down to "In yo' face!" which is the name of the post) shows that he in fact did no such thing.  It was in fact LOLd by him (twice).  Perhaps his memory doesn't serve him well.  That would be strange, given that the image caused such difficulties for him and his journalistic career.


Again, if it's necessary to state the obvious, making jokes about Hitler killing Jews doesn't make you anti-Semitic, or suggest you agree with any aspect of Hitler's policies.  It's a "joke" - but it does mean you have a sense of humour that most people would find distinctly unpleasant.  It's doubly curious from someone who is a young Jew and would, I'm sure, attract the disdain of many in the Jewish community.

Homosexuality is Wrong

I've known plenty of gays who suffer from low self-esteem.  It can manifest itself in destructive behaviour, addiction and sometimes an active dislike of other gay men.  You hear jokes where gay men call each other "poofs", "queers" and use the third person feminine to mock someone ("What's she up to tonight?" when referring to another gay man etc).

Another group of gays belong to the "straight acting" category, who dislike anyone who acts "camply" and is too effeminate for the way they think people should behave.  Their homophobia towards such people is as strong and vicious as anything I have ever heard from a straight person.

The reason I set out the material on anti-Semitic Jews at the beginning of this post is two-fold.  It counters the argument that a Jew cannot ever be guilty of making anti-Semitic comments.  Of course they can.  But it also is interesting to draw parallels with other forms of dislike of a group you belong to, because the psychology is so similar.

Using Levin's analysis, homophobia by gay people must be the very same pattern of acceptance and internalising of prejudice from abusers.  The abused then apply this to themselves and to members of their own group.   To alter Nordau's quote, is it perhaps the greatest triumph of homophobia that it has brought gays to view themselves with homophobic eyes?


Milo is gay.  Let's look at some of his thoughts on the subject taken from his public blog:
"The thought that I might influence my child towards a lifestyle choice guaranteed to bring them pain and unhappiness – however remote that chance may be – is horrifying to me."
"I’d describe myself as 90-95% gay. I would never have chosen to be this way. No one would choose it. You’d have to be mad. "
"No one would choose to have a gay child rather than a straight one. It would be like wishing that they were born disabled – not just because homosexuality is aberrant, but because that child will suffer unnecessarily. Again, you’d have to be mad. Or evil. "
"Is being homosexual “wrong”? Something somewhere inside of me says Yes."
"The feelings of alienation and rejection [growing up gay] engenders are responsible for the sorts of repugnant tribal posturing you see on the streets of Soho on a Friday night, as bitterly unhappy queers engage in degrading and repulsive behaviour, simply because they want to feel a part of something after a lifetime of marginalisation."
"All these preening poofs in public life do is make life more difficult for regular young gay people by reinforcing the stereotypes about gay behaviour: reminding a struggling child’s myopic dad that queers are uppity, in-your-face, camp-as-tits faggots who’ll rape you as soon as look at you."
"I don’t hate myself and I don’t hate my sexuality. (Granted, I have a complicated relationship with the latter.) Nor do I hate other gay men. (Where would fat girls be without them?)"

Milo posing: "Railway Toilets III"

Are the above comments homophobic?  If a straight person called me a "bitterly unhappy queer", a "preening poof" or "a camp as tits faggot" I'd say this was the very definition of homophobic abuse and hate language.  This poisonous bile actually makes me feel a bit sick.   Milo's post led me to write my own blog post a while back on why I would actually, genuinely choose to be gay.

Dislike of lesbians is another expression of gay homophobia and prejudice: this might not be strictly speaking because of self-hatred, but it is certainly a noticeable and unpleasant characteristic of more than a few gay men.  Here's a selection of tweets that show our friend Milo spewing out repeated homophobia directed at lesbians:


The one that pretty much seems to sum up Milo's views is the typically articulate one below.  It is a response to a series of portraits of trans* men.  There is actually nothing to suggest they are lesbian, so Milo gets a tick for transphobia too whilst we are at it:



A Media-Hungry Influencer

Does it matter that anyone who is apparently so deeply unhappy with his own life should use their self-proclaimed "semi public position" to put this stuff on homosexuality into the public arena? 

I rather think it does.  Milo controls an online magazine.   He is a angry opponent of marriage equality and is not shy of getting himself quoted to show that some gay people are opposed to the move.  In a similar vein, he also somehow managed to convince Channel 4 News that because he was opposed to the LGBT friendly Catholic Soho Masses this represented a split in gay Catholic opinion.

When a prominent evangelical pastor declares his support for same-sex relationships this is inherently more newsworthy and of interest than a gay campaigner saying he supports them.  Similarly when a gay man goes out into the media and attacks the attempts of his community to achieve equal treatment, it is seized upon as representing something much more than the self-loathing tendencies of one individual. 

Like it or not (I do not), Milo is an influencer and not just on Twitter.  For how much longer he remains so is anyone's question, of course, given his publication's financial troubles and his general standing amongst the journalist community.  There are times when you can't help but feel a lot of pity for him - and then you read his comments about "fat girls", "preening poofs" or Jews being "bigoted and having big noses" and you change your mind.

Get Out of Jail Card

What is clear is that just because you're a member of any given group or groups, you are not immune from indulging in bigotry towards those groups.  However, do you warrant a "Get out of Jail Card" if you choose to express these prejudices?

In my opinion you do not.  Anti-semitism, homophobia, sexism and racism are all accepted by most people (and by the law) as being objectionable and wrong.  Milo's excuse for his anti-lesbian comments is that he is gay.  Does that make them any less nasty or unpleasant for a lesbian reader of the comments?  No: in fact you could say that it makes the culpability worse.  He apparently has experienced pain and unhappiness as a result of being gay, yet he's happy repeatedly to turn his hatred on other gay people in a public forum.

Is it okay for a Jew to make an anti-Semitic "joke" or to wear an Iron Cross?  I think most Jews would say it isn't - and in the case of the Iron Cross, in fact it's even more offensive and disrespectful for a member of the people who suffered so horrendously to wear this symbol of German militarism.  Of course ultimately it's entirely up to him: people will make their own judgements and he can live with that.  I'd just advise him heavily not to try pulling this prank on one of his regular jaunts to Berlin.  His defence that he's a Jew "so this is okay" might not be too readily accepted.  In my experience, 19th and 20th century right wing military symbols aren't terribly in vogue at the moment in modern day Germany.

A Wider Phenomenon

I feel sorry for Milo.  It can't be pleasant carrying all this round with you.  He is just an easily referenced example for a much wider phenomenon though.  It's important to get that there's nothing self-contradictory at all about a Jew mocking other Jews, or for a gay to be deeply homophobic.  The question is whether we dismiss it, or reflect on it, and point it out to those engaging in it.









POSTSCRIPT

I gave Milo the opportunity of confirming or denying whether the photo stream (including the image of him wearing the Iron Cross and with the Hitler biographies) was his.  He neither expressly confirmed nor denied it, but within an hour the Flickr account had been deleted, having been inactive for over six years.


The name Milo Wagner with the word [deleted] behind the account still appears on comments he previously left on Flickr, however.  Here's one left on a photo posted by David Haywood Smith.  He happens to be Milo's business associate at the Kernel.





One screenshot of the (now) deleted Milo Wagner account




2 + 2 = 5

Here is a video I received by Shabab Alif, an activist. Different people watching this video would have different interpretation of it. After I watched it, it made me ponder:

If I fight for the correct answer and eventhough I am right, I will still die. If I chose to follow the leader, I might be wrong, but remain alive. This reminds me of Les Miserables movie where all (except one) who was fighting for revolution died, even a small boy. But, that one person who survived will still continue to fight for his rights. So like one of the comments said, even if you kill a hero, there will always be another hero.

It can also be related to real life where there are leaders and followers. Some people would rather just keep quiet, be a follower and avoid confrontation, while others would voice out and fight till the wrong becomes right.

The movie also shows that you can brainwash people, just not all of them are that weak.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Today's news

Today, I read some interesting news in the Daily Mail. Not good news, but something everyone should be aware of.

Article #1: Horse meat found in Beef Burgers sold in Tesco, Aldi and Lidl!!

I am not worried about the horse meat, just worried about which part of the animal was minced!

Article #2: Facebook becomes a search engine like Google.
How private is Facebook nowadays? I recently found out that some of my photos and post which I set to 'friends only' was actually changed to 'public'. I had to manually change the settings again. My friend and I 'unfriend' each other just to check to see what both of us could see on each others profile as a stranger.

"Facebook has dramatically overhauled its search service to allow people to search for information and pictures posted by their friends - as well as public posts from everyone else on Facebook.
The new 'Graph Search' service allows users to search photos, people, and connections, and find places their friends have recommended."

READ MORE HERE

Article #3: A lady who wanted to sell her dress on Ebay accidentally included her NAKED self in the picture!
When posting a picture online, check every inch of the photo beforehand to avoid 'Likes' for a very different reason.

Article #4: "If your son wears a V neck, means he is gay", says the Malaysian Government
Unbelievable!!! All my years of reading Daily Mail, there was rarely any news about Malaysia. Now, I think Daily Mail has finally picked out a 'hot topic' from Malaysia. These kinds of 'Hot Topics' are pretty frequent in Malaysia. So, I guess I will be reading more about what Malaysia's government has to say in the near future in Daily Mail.... and its NOT GOOD!


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Back from Bournemouth

The trip back to Glasgow using Megabus was much better. The journey was longer as the bus made stops at Manchester, Preston and Leicester. That means instead of a 7hour journey, it took 9 hours to reach Glasgow.

The bus this time was pretty good. I am not sure if this was the bus they planned to use for the trip bacause our scheduled departure time was delayed. Somehow our bus could not make it to London and so, we had this replacement bus.

It was a double decker Megabus and it was clean, the seats were more sturdy and it was really comfortable.

So, because of that, the nine hour joueney back to glasgow was not a 'head shattering' as the first bus I took.

I wish they would throw that older bus away.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Suffering on the bus

So, i am finally in Bournemouth with my awesome host, Alex. It was a long journey, 13 hours bus ride to be exact.
I know, I am crazy to do that.

But, I really did not think it would have been that bad at first.

When I was looking at megabus back in October, I was pretty ecstatic to know there were 1 pound buses available from Glasgow to London. I did not think about the travel duration. All I wanted was a cheap mode of transport. At the same time, I contacted Alex and we always wanted to meet up after so long. Therefore, I decided to go to Bournemouth from London. I also thought Bournemouth was only one hour away from London. But it was actually two and a half hours.

Sitting in Megabus for 7hours from Glasgow to London was torture. The bus was so bumpy. The seats were bumpy and shaky. I felt like my brain and other organs were really being shaked and moved. No matter where I lay, I was still shaking. Ended up with a terrible headache which lasted till the next day.

The only good thing about the trip was that I manage to see Manchester as the bus picked up some people from Manchester. Manchester looks like just another city with the same shops.

I do not look forward to my journey back to glasgow. I tried searching for flights or trains to go back, but it was too expensive :(:(

From london, I had to take another bus by National Express to head to Bournemout. I can see why people would rather pay more to ride on National Express. It was still bumpy but I guess my head was still aching from Megabus so the journey to Bournemouth was horrid too for me.

I did feel like puking but luckily I had ginger biscuits to keep the nausea away.

I am enjoying Bournemouth and the company.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

London bound

1pound Megabus ticket to London. Im in the bus now, waiting to depart from Glasgow. Unfortunately we are bein delayed by a guy who smells of marjuana insisting on getting on the bus. He was at another stance earlier disturbing others. Can't imagine the gruelling journey with someone like him in the bus!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Food Panda delivery in KL

I received the weekly BCard newsletter in my email and I saw an advertisment about foodpanda.com. I was too curious because the panda picture was looked cute, so I clicked on the advert. I found out foodpanda.com was a delivery website for food in Kuala Lumpur. It looked like a pretty simple concept.

Firstly, I chose my location.


Then, a list of restaurants that deliver to my house appears.


The information given were like name of restaurant, its address, duration for delivery, delivery charge etc. The one thing that caught my eye was the delivery charge. If I were to order for delivery from Modestos, it would cost me RM6. I think that is reasonable for someone who does not have a car but needs some good food. The downside I see was that, it takes 1hour for delivery which means that the food might be cold and soggy already. McDonalds takes one hour to deliver too and most of the time, the fries were soggy.

Maybe foodpanda's delivery duration was just an estimation. I haven't tried the system and I can't try till half a year later lol. I would try it once if no one else has tried it back home because they do have a good 160+ list of restaurants like Obriens, Kaw Kaw burger,Secret Recipe and others.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Midnight cravings

It is not nice to be browsing facebook at midnight and seeing postings on delicious food that cannot be easily found in Glasgow..... What I saw:

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Culinary skills

My cousin made these flowers out of chocolate. She is just 15 years old. So pretty. I guess culinary skills are all in the family genes :)




A sure way to cheer up

By reading this

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Daily Fail

SO much has been said about how utterly hateful and poisonous the Daily Mail is, what else could possibly be written?  Well it's New Year and two stories over the holiday period particularly caught my eye, so here's my personal little contribution.

Sacrifices of a Brave British Mother

Today's serving from the Mail is the first I wish to comment on.  I'm deliberately not going to link to the story directly (more later), so allow me a broad summary.  Clare Campbell, Mail writer, and self-proclaimed "successful author" has fallen on hard times.  Having had an income in 2008 of £100,000 she and her husband put their elder children through private education.  Their youngest son has also been through private nursery, private primary school, and private secondary school.  Now, despite a large drop in income since the recession, they cannot bear to send him to state school to complete his education, because it just did not "seem right".  State schools in their area apparently have mediocre exam results and the boys "slouch round in scruffy uniforms".

Therefore Clare and her husband have gone through their own period of austerity economics.  She provides handy, practical housewifely tips to highlight the substantial belt-tightening the family has been through.  New purchases of designer frocks from Harvey Nicks are out, replaced by the reuse of existing designer pencil skirts and suits that can be "shortened, lengthened or paired with High Street accessories "at very little extra cost".  Her husband now swears by TK Maxx for his fix of designer gear.  Prada fragrance is out for Clare.  A daily visit to Starbucks is replaced by coffee made at home.  Apart from popping in for the rare treat of "the odd bag of posh pasta", she has ditched (delicious!) Waitrose food and started buying groceries at Aldi or Lidl.  Her beautiful flower garden has been turned into a home-grown vegetable patch (sound the "spirit of the War" and "dig on for victory" klaxons).  Meals out are now only permitted in the likes of Pizza Express.

Perhaps most tear-evoking is the fact that annual holidays to Brazil have been replaced by mere city-breaks to Munich.  ALL of this is hardship is being endured in order that her son will not have to go to a state school.

Munich: that dangerous, seedy holiday destination of the penniless

It is of course, frankly extremely easy to piss yourself at the absurdity of this article.  It's hard to see how growing your own vegetables can make much of a dent in a £15,000 a year school bill.  One meal for four in Pizza Express can easily cost more than many families spend on a week on groceries.  People go years without buying new clothes, let alone having expensive designer ones to modify and accessorise with new items from mere "High Street" stores.  Munich is one of the most affluent, chic and luxury cities in Europe, with prices to match.  A week at Butlin's or self-catering in Benidorm it is not.  In a previous Mail article, Clare reveals that she lives in "leafy Wandsworth" where a family Victorian terrace costs around the £1 million mark, property prices are on the rise, and the area is described as a magnet for London's high fliers.  Her neighbours include bankers, doctors, a High Court judge and "retired lady diplomat".

I've never been one for the politics of envy and nor do I gloat at the thought of anyone falling on what they feel are hard times.  Nonetheless, the use of her expression "put my family through this" to describe the economies she has implemented, is self-pitying and shows utter ignorance and even contempt for what literally millions of other families are experiencing.  Times might be relatively tough for her, but for her to be such a vocal sympathy sponge in a national daily is somewhat stomach-churning.

Her personal spending decisions are likewise entirely up to her.  If she has made a private decision to forgo her shopping trips to Harvey Nicks to pay for her son's school fees, fine and dandy.  For her to set herself up in the Daily Mail as some kind of latter day Joan of Arc martyr ("I'll buy food at Lidl and clothes at Primark rather than take my son out of his private school") for having done so just, however, invokes a massive "fuck off" in my book.  I'd also throw into the mix that I went to a not particularly great comprehensive school and it didn't stop my going to Cambridge.  The phrase she uses to describe state schools ("a poverty of expectation") again deserves a similar expletive as it offends the many excellent professionals who work in the state sector.

The reaction on Twitter (and perhaps surprisingly in many of the Mail Reader online comments left on the story) was predictable.  It consisted of a mixture of outrage, amusement and my "go and engage in sexual acts" responses.  Why then publish it?  I'll set out my thoughts after a couple of paragraphs on the second recent story I'd like to highlight.

Gypsies: "We're on our way to Britain"

The front page of the Christmas Eve edition of the Mail was much more their standard fare.  Again, I'm not providing the link: this screen shot and picture further down tell you all you need to know.

Merry Christmas, Love, the Mail
The story deftly combines so many of the paper's attributes into one front page story: exaggeration, anti-EU politics, anti-Eastern Europe xenophobia, anti-gypsy racism, benefit abuse, and British superiority.  The final element is of course FEAR - the lifeblood of the paper which runs through so many of its stories, including the "everything gives you cancer" pieces it is so well known for.  Up to 29 million East Europeans could be on their way to somewhere near YOU and the clock is ticking.

According to the Mail, this tidal wave of immigration (will anyone remain in Romania or Bulgaria?) will not be comprised of be hard-working tradespeople, people prepared to put up with low wages to do menial jobs, or young professionals.  Only those living in the gypsy slums will apparently have the economic ability, forethought and incentive to come here.  Their aim will be not to work, but to claim benefits.  It will only be Britain that is the target for this mass immigration, not the wealthy countries of say Sweden, Denmark, Germany or the Netherlands, some of which are closer, all of which are subject to the same EU rules, and all of which have substantially more generous welfare states.

Presumably everyone knows of the infamous "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!" 1930s Mail headline which praised Mosley's British Union of Fascists.  It appeared around the same time as Lord Rothermere's article in which he predicted that "The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany".  I once read another less well known Mail story from this time about the arrival of Jewish refugees in Britain.  What struck me about it is that you could substitute the word "Jew" for "Eastern European immigrant" and the language, rhetoric and content would read just like a modern day Mail story.  The foreign speaking, odd-looking, benefit-seeking Jews have now assimilated and the apocalyptic visions of the Mail have been transferred to a new group to distrust and spread fear and hatred about.  It's a different century but it's the same poisonous bile.

Why Does the Mail Do It?

The answer is really very simple, of course.  They're a business and they are an extremely successful one at that.  Just like any other publication, their revenue has to come either from the sale of hard copy editions, or through advertising revenue.  The Mail is the UK's second largest selling newspaper, with sales of almost 2 million a day, and a readership of over 4.3 million people.  Their obnoxious mixture of fear, hate, prejudice and social aspiration sells to a sector of the primarily lower middle class market that they know so well.

The paper is heavily slanted towards Conservative Party voters and provides them with the fodder that confirms their view of the world.  Stories such as the brave plight and sacrifices shown by Clare Campbell in no longer shopping in Waitrose reinforce the Government's message that we are "all in this together".  Her "sacrifices" show that anyone can get through these austere times if they darn well pull their socks up and dig vegetables in the garden.  She is the embodiment of people "doing the right thing" (to use Cameron's favourite line) and represents the antithesis of Osbourne's mythical millions who keep their blinds down in the morning because they're out of work and on benefits.

The story also provides a not-so-subtle parallel with the simplistic Coalition household economics approach to the national deficit:
But — like Britain itself — although our long-term prospects for financial recovery were good, the balance in our joint bank account remained alarmingly low. We were earning less than a third of what we once had. 
At the same time Campbell provides an odd model for lower middle class Mail readers' social aspirations.  In these austere times it's now cool to be posh and rub shoulders with the great unwashed in Lidl - just as long as certain clear social differentiators are in place.  In this case it is that you live in a £1m home, you're wearing designer dresses that you've altered the hems on, and it's all just to keep your son in private education.  The story even mentions that she bumped into a friend of hers in the local Lidl - and then immediately explains that the friend is from a Pilates class and is married to a hedge-fund manager.  The snobbery is stomach-turning.

They've even managed to find a hoodie wearing gypsy.  Full marks!

The Bulgarian Gypsies story is much simpler.  It is pure fear and xenophobia: the bread and butter of Mail journalism.  They've been doing it for decades and will do it as long as people want to read this type of thing.  The target group will change (they will always be weaker in some way), but the sentiment of dislike of the outsiders is as basic and primitive as cave-dwellers' not liking people who aren't from their tribe.

Neither Clever, Nor Sophisticated

None of this is clever, or sophisticated.  The Mail has been poisoning the minds of generations of Britons for over a century now.  It has been responsible for reinforcing and indeed creating a reality in this country that I abhor.  I say "creating" because taking the example of the EU, I'm quite sure the increase in the unpopularity of the European political project over the last 20 years has been down to a steady supply of negativity and untruths from the Mail (and other right-wing British tabloids) that feeds into the fertile ground of latent prejudices in this country.  This stuff sells because people want to hear it, but it also shapes and entrenches opinions.

The cleverer stuff, however, comes in with the "click-baiting".  In order to sell advertising space, the Mail online has to produce readership statistics.  There will always be people (the same demographic as those who buy the paper) who will read this stuff online.  In addition, however, there is a big group out there who wouldn't ordinarily go near the Mail with a bargepole.  Many of them are well represented on Twitter and they are located just a click away from boosting readerships numbers.  Clicks make points, and "points make prizes" for the owners of the Mail.  This is important stuff in terms of revenue: after the New York Times, the Mail is apparently the world’s second-biggest news site by traffic, with some 40 million unique visitors.

Looking at both recent stories I've highlighted (and in particular the Waitrose Martyr one, which today spurred the creation of the hashtag #prayforclarecampbell) it is hard not to think this is all extremely deliberate and manipulative.  The Mail knows Twitter is out there and that there are many liberal/left leaning people using it.  With each successive hideous piece of writing on the Mail Online, the warnings have been going out on Twitter - do not click on this, it's just deliberate baiting to cause outrage from people who will disagree.  Even the paper's repeatedly expressed dislike of Twitter as a medium can be seen as a giant trolling exercise: who will take objection to this and post the links?  We, the gullible, of course.

Despite all the warnings and this knowledge, we still do it though.  It's like a car crash: we don't want to see people mangled in a wreck on the other side of the carriageway, yet who just drives past and doesn't slow down to sneak a look?  Heavens, I've just written an entire post devoted to the paper I loathe: what it deserves is everyone to ignore it, not to comment upon it.  The problem is that when people tweet about a story, even without linking to it, curiosity so frequently gets the better of you.  If we object to the Mail exploiting us and don't wish to boost its advertising revenue, we really will have to smarten up a bit and hold our tongues on Twitter.  You *really* don't have to search for and click on the two stories I mention here: I promise I have not misrepresented them and everything you need to know is here.

In summary, this by @WelshDalaiLama presents matters beautifully (and "read" encompasses clicking on their links):