On Brett Kavanaugh

Given the recent allegations, I will be writing about assault this morning. Not in too much detail, but I thought it’d be best to say something at the start. People lacking in empathy might mumble to themselves, “lol, is this a trigger warning? What an SJW cuck!” Well the fact is pal, you and I are lucky enough to have never experienced physical sexual assault and the PTSD symptoms that come with it. So yes, it’s a f***ing trigger warning.

Professor Christine Ford is reportedly receiving death threats because she came forward with her account of Brett Kavanuagh, which was his attempted rape while they were both in high school.

I don’t care if you believe Professor Ford or not (I do really, but I’ll get to that), but why is it always the right who send death threats when someone comes forward with something that conflicts with their narrative? I’m not saying all people on the right are sending death threats, obviously, just enough to have Professor Ford fearing for her life, and having to move herself and her family to a different location.

Kavanuagh holds a lot of opinions that I disagree with. He believes that birth control is synonymous to abortion, that automatic weapons are an American right, and he appears to be a climate-change denier — he’s not convinced at the very least. He holds opinions which don’t fit my personal worldview, and he’s potentially about to become a judge on the highest court in the land, where he’ll help to shape American law and society for decades to come.

But I don’t want to kill the guy.

I think he probably needs a hug, a mug of tea and a blanket, especially considering the opinions he holds, I don’t think he’s been shown much love in his life. He then needs to spend time conversing with average American citizens, veterans and people below the poverty line — to gain a perspective on the country he’ll be presiding over. But I also think he should face the allegations against him in a court of law, and cooperate with any investigators as criminal proceedings are carried out.

But kill him? The guy has the ability to dangerously impact the lives of millions of Americans and he allegedly attempted rape — but even he doesn’t deserve death threats.

Enter Professor Christine Ford, a woman who has simply come forward about a harrowing experience from her past, who now has her life threatened by people who can’t comprehend the idea that sometimes people do bad things.

To those who think the timing is convenient, at the 11th hour of Kavanaugh’s hearing, this isn’t a recent story. Professor Ford came forward in private back in July, when news of Kavanaugh’s potential appointment to the supreme court revived the memories of her experiences with Kavanaugh.

Given that the incident happened thirty-six years ago, in a time where it was far more difficult for people to come forward about any instance of sexual assault, it makes perfect sense why Professor Ford didn’t mention anything until she saw Kavanaugh across news outlets in July of this year.

To those who wouldn’t send death threats, but who also don’t believe her story, let me give you some statistics about sexual assault accusations. If you take the top and bottom ends of studies conducted on allegations of rape over the last twenty years, then in 2-10% of cases the accuser is found to have lied.

Now, even if we take the higher number for the sake of argument, the overwhelming majority of those 10% of accusers were teenagers who would otherwise be in trouble for their actions. For example, people raised in ultra-conservative households who would be punished if they were found to have had consensual sex.

I only have statistics from the UK here, but in the 2000s, of 216 cases that were found (at the time or later) to be false allegations, only 6 resulted in an arrest being made, and only 2 of them were then charged. So less than 1% of 10% of accounts from victims result in the wrongful punishment of the accused.

That means that the people sending Professor Ford death threats, believe that Kavannagh is in the 0.001% of accused sexual assaulters who’re about to be punished for not actually doing anything wrong. Or at the very least they don’t believe that Professor Ford is in the 90-98% of victims who’re found to be telling the truth.

Professor Ford doesn’t fit the archetype of someone who would lie about sexual assault. She’s no longer a teenage girl who’s afraid of what her parents might say if they found out she’s had sex. She’s also in a comfortable position in society, who stands to lose more than she does to gain if her accusations are proven false in a court of law, or after an FBI investigation, or hearing, or all three.

I completely empathise with people who like to say “innocent until proven guilty”, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable platform to have in the society we have constructed for ourselves. What I would say is that we shouldn’t have to apply that statement to supreme-court nominees, political candidates or presidents.

There are plenty of people who don’t have these allegations swirling around them, who’re qualified for these high official positions in society, in fact the majority of people haven’t committed sexual assault! Crazy notion, but it’s important to remember.

I’d also challenge anyone who holds true to the “innocent until proven guilty” motto, to look-up statistics on sexual assault, talk to people who’ve been through that horrific experience (only if they’ve come forward about that experience and are okay talking about it, of course), and be careful when actively defending someone who has been accused.

As spectators in this messy show of sides, facts, opinions and statistics, we should probably remain neutral until official investigations are carried out. But that neutrality should include encouragement for victims of sexual assault to come forward, as we dig up our ugly past in an attempt to build a world with fewer instances like this in our future.

What we shouldn’t be doing is sending death threats, especially to the party who has nothing to personally gain, everything to lose and a slew of statistics in support of their side.


Today is Wednesday, September 19th and is International Talk Like a Pirate Day still a thing? Because that’s today, arghhhhhh.

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Brexit: Handing Britain Over to Toxic Capitalists

Sorry for more Brexit, but I have a lot of feelings. I read this over my morning coffee and my blood slowly simmered to an above-average temperature. It didn’t boil, I’m not a cliche, yet.

Given my status as a British expat living in America, you’d suppose I’d be all for any think-tank idea that proposed total free movement between the two countries. My family could visit without an ESTA, and hopping on a plane for them would be as easy and hassle-free as it is to hop on a train to France (for six more months). Had this potentially happened sooner I’d have been able to go back to the UK for Christmas this year, instead of having to wait at least another eight months for my green card.

The legal immigration services in America are currently running at the slowest they have in years. A byproduct of this administration focusing so much on deporting illegal immigrants, is that those of us who’re following paperwork procedures are slowed-down to a stopping point. It’s an immigration traffic jam on the toll road, and I don’t think it’s a happy accident.

However, this morning a right-wing think-tank, sponsored by the Koch brothers and prominent eurosceptics, unveiled its proposal for a new trade deal between the US and the UK. This would mean free movement between both countries; All the benefits of my life now, but without a lot of the messy paperwork and restrictions. Sounds pretty good, right?

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Well, the proposal also includes a plan to open the NHS up to foreign bidders. The National Health Service is a British institute, and despite its under-funding from right-wing governments, it’s still alive. Even in its dying embers, the model of the NHS still provides light and hope to other countries, for what universal healthcare can look like.

If properly funded by the government, by the taxes of the people, the NHS is a safety net for anyone in society. We learned this week that even far-right elitists like Katie Hopkins need to apply for insolvency to avoid bankruptcy. I doubt her financial advisor would recommend her paying for private healthcare in this difficult time, so even people like her need the NHS.

Seriously, can she be bumped-up the waiting list to receive counselling for her mental health? She clearly has a lot of undiagnosed issues.

Treatments that cost hundred of thousands of dollars in the US would simply be paid for by regular taxes, and if you have the money you still have the option to go private; You have the freedom of choice! Nationalised healthcare should be a badge of honour for any country that upholds the standard. It projects to the world that you put the health and wellbeing of your citizens first and foremost. A government will still make mistakes, but not allowing people to die simply because they’ve been born into poverty is a good platform to start from.

If the ideas of this think-tank are pushed forward into right-wing Brexitier policy — As they likely will be, due to the pressure on Theresa May for a hard-Brexit and the rising support for a second referendum if there’s no deal struck with Europe — Then Britain could see the NHS bought by American insurance companies, who will salivate at the idea of sixty-five-million new contracts of monthly payments.

Okay, some of those people are children, and some will inevitably go full-private, but sixty-five million sounds so impactful. Fine… it’ll more likely be forty-million new contracts. Happy now?

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This deal would seek to remove tariffs for big-business and sell the idea of a free-trade utopia in which government doesn’t get in the way of profit. This might sound great to some, but a completely unregulated society is how you end up with oligarchs and rampant toxic capitalists. The 1% would rapidly become the 0.001% and people who are currently considered “middle class” would be pushing the poverty line. All of this so the winning capitalists can have a third gold mansion, a fourth private jet and a fifth divorce.

Should businesses be regulated by the government across the board? Absolutely not. First-time and small business owners should receive as much help from their government as possible, in the form of reduced-interest loans and free business advice.

It’s important to remember in a time where the middle-ground has been obliterated that not all capitalist policies are bad, chances are you’re currently benefitting from many of them. Policies and ideologies only become dangerous when people go full-force with them, without any thought to the ramifications.

However, the people who’ve been rich for several generations, who’ve known nothing but wealth and power, and who pay for think-tanks from “charities” (lobbyists) that advance their agenda — I believe these people should be regulated.

These people have made a certain amount of personal wealth, more than anyone could ever possibly need in ten lifetimes, and they’re still searching for more gold to fill the walls of their cartoonish vaults? These are the exact sorts of people who should have tabs kept on them, who shouldn’t be allowed to influence policy. And yet, they fly under the radar, pay no tax and have had a strong influence over Western leaders since the 1980s.

Now they’re trying to leave their mark on Brexit, and benefit from the chaos of a referendum where people were lied to over what would happen. I don’t hold any anger to anyone who voted for Brexit, just to the lobbyists and the “charities”. Also the politicians and the multi-national businessmen who lined their pockets. They promised the world and a new utopia for Britain, but it now appears as though the people who funded the “Leave” campaign are the same people who’re looking to sell the NHS to the highest bidder, and cease all regulations for the most dangerous men on the planet.

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192 days and counting Britain — There’s no deal in sight and if that happens the choices will be:

1. Demand a second referendum, as a no-deal scenario was never part of the agreement to leave the EU.

2. Let the toxic capitalists who backed the “leave campaign” dictate British policy for decades to come.

It’s funny, a lot of people didn’t want to be controlled by the EU — a body made up of thousands of elected citizens — but it looks as though Britain could be controlled by a handful of US and UK businessmen instead. Democracy indeed.


Today is Tuesday, September 18th and it’s less than fifty days until the American midterms. Oh boy here we go again.

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The 70th Emmys: Shiny Things For Shiny People

It’s the 70th Primetime Emmy awards tonight and that surely must mean something. In this have-it-now, trend-changing, drive-thru, disposable, binge-watch culture we have going on in the early-morning stretches of this century, we should probably hold true to some long-running institutions. Especially the ones that are only partially problematic, like entertainment awards shows, and not wholly regressive, like beauty pageants. At least all of the made-up nominees at the Emmys have a legit and obvious talent, and it’s only Henry Winkler who has tried to sleep with the academy judges this year.

(Joke, not true)

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One of the talking-points of this years’ awards is that HBO have been toppled from the most-nominations title, an accolade they’d held at the Emmys for the last seventeen years. Netflix can now claim bragging rights over best creator of content on the small-screen, with one-hundred and twelve nominations across forty different shows. Which, really, is less than three nominations per show — are you even trying Netflix!?

It appears as though the model of ‘throwing as much money at as many projects as possible and some things will stick’, is working over at Netflix. In my opinion the average quality of their shows are far lower than any other network, but they appear to be making a lot more than anyone else. For every BoJack Horseman there’s a Pacific Heat, for every GLOW there’s an Insatiable, for every mediocre yet popular superhero franchise there’s an Iron Fist.

HBO are fortunate that season seven of Game of Thrones is included in this award cycle. Even though the quality of Thrones dwindled last season, it’s still head and shoulders above many TV dramas, thanks to it’s blockbuster-level budget and water-cooler-worthy talking-points.

I hope HBO receive some recognition for Barry, the Bill Hader-fronted dark comedy about a hit-man who wants to make it as an actor in LA. A bunch of talented people poured a lot into those eight episodes and they’re well worth a watch if you haven’t tried it already. Of course it’ll be up against Atlanta, GLOW and The Good Place in many of the comedy categories, all excellent shows in their own right.

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HBO don’t deserve quite as much praise for the second season of Westworld, which was a meandering mess when compared to the lofty-heights of the near-perfect debut season. I’m all for piecing together a complex narrative, but when that results in gaping plot-holes and characters behaving nonsensically, I can’t keep playing that game, no matter how strong the performances are, or how beautiful the shot composition is.

Twin Peaks: The Return didn’t receive as many nominations as I’d hoped, but Lynch is at least getting some recognition for his directing. At a time when we’re making the best TV programming in history, but where companies are starting to rest on bankable brands and franchises which never change, Twin Peaks returned to flip the script once more.

Just as it did back in 1990, when it taught today’s TV-makers that the small screen doesn’t have to be about single-episode procedurals, in 2017 we were reminded that capturing a feeling, a raw nerve at the edge of an idea strung out in an unconventional fashion, is sometimes enough.

Twin Peaks invited us to view and feel, it was a piece of visual art displayed over eighteen hours of freeform television. If we didn’t want to think, we didn’t have to think, we could simply experience. Compare that to Westworld, which was a ten-hour piece of science, where we were told we had to think, forced to figure out the equally disjointed narrative. The difference between the two was that David Lynch remembered that TV is still escapism, Nolan and Joy forced the viewer to remain in their own world to explain the events of the imaginary one, in order to find satisfaction. Give me some time in the Black Lodge over Westworld any day.

Of course none of that matters, because Game of Thrones and American Crime Story will walk away with the awards in the dramatic categories.

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I hope Sarah Silverman gets some love for her late-night talk-show, I Love You, America. It’s a refreshing twist on the format and she manages to educate on a variety of subjects without ever coming across as preachy or agenda-filled. She follows the format of a male-hosted late-night talk-show, whilst lovingly poking fun at the genre, with self-aware segues such as “okay shut up it’s time for my monologue” and managing to include sincere discourse in the form of couch-style chit-chats.

I’m glad that Charlie Brooker has another writing nomination for the Black Mirror episode ‘USS Callister’, which was definitely the best of the most recent series. It was a visceral critique of male-dominated nerd culture, and the episode even managed to have a happy ending, a rarity for the dystopian nightmare anthology series.

I’m looking at the list of nominations for directing in a comedy series, an award that Barry deserves, even if the other comedy awards go elsewhere, and I’m seeing that The Big Bang Theory has been nominated for an episode — For best directing? I love the studio sitcom style, but given the traditional camera setup and rigid format, I don’t think we should be praising it for outstanding directing. Especially for a show that’s been on the air for eleven years already.

I’m sure the Emmys will be just another thing that happens, and that some people will be deserving whilst others will go without. I’m sure that everyone will continue to make great television, as the best stories and biggest talent are moving from the big screen to the small. I’m also sure it’ll be one shiny, statue-sized distraction from all the bad things in the world, if only for a few hours. Which is really all television is to begin with.


Today is Monday, September 17th and redrafting is not as fun as writing a first draft, but it’s annoyingly necessary.

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VK and Yandex

I do not posses the investigative-journalism skills needed to write something genuinely insightful on what I’ll be rambling about today. However I couldn’t find any written pieces about it, but if anyone does I’d very much appreciate the link.

I was browsing the Alexa rankings in the US — as you do from time to time, just to see how the old internet is doing — and something really stood out to me. VK.com (VKontakte) is currently the 30th most frequented website in the US, ahead of the New York Times, Hulu and Apple. Yandex.ru is the 33rd most visited site in the US, ahead of Yelp, Walmart and Dropbox.

These are both Russian websites, with VK being a massive social media network often equated to Facebook, and Yandex largely serving as a search engine akin to Google.

Now, before I continue with my disconnected thoughts over a rather large morning mug of coffee, I want to say that the following words are purely speculation. Someone a lot smarter than me, with an extensive knowledge of online media, will be able to swiftly explain why these two websites have been trending upwards on the US Alexa rankings for the last two years. What I’m doing is nothing more than emptying my thoughts onto a blank internet page.

I can’t be clear enough — This is not journalism.

Okay, here I go *clears throat*

Yeah but… Pretty weird thing, isn’t it?


Today is Friday, September 14th and I hope everyone has a great weekend!


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No? I can’t just do that? Okay, fine. I’ll write this properly — If I absolutely bloody must.

Obviously we all know about the allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and various other democratic votes in the West, including Brexit. Putin denies it on a weekly basis, asking people to show him the evidence. When people then show evidence that Russia (at the very least) “meddled”, he shrugs his shoulders and says that it’s fake evidence.

The ongoing Mueller investigation seeks to find links between the campaigns of the 2016 presidential race and Russian influence. So far plenty of links  (including meetings, memos, offers and state-sponsored agents) have been found among the Trump campaign. But I have to ask — wHat abOUt the eMaiLs!?

In all seriousness, I trust the investigation. Mueller is a Republican who appears to put his country before his party. If he had any special interest it would be to protect Trump, but he obviously isn’t doing that. If Mueller comes out in a year with his report and says that there was no collusion, I’ll believe him. I can’t speak for other filthy lefties, but I think we have to believe in the process of justice and accept the outcome no matter what — Otherwise we sound like O J. Trump.

That was meant to be like “Orange J. Trump” but I now realise it looks like an OJ Simpson reference, and in no way am I saying that Donald has killed someone.

Damn it… Also, in no way am I saying that OJ Simpson killed anyone.

See, this is how you can tell this isn’t real journalism.

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In the past I’ve written about Russian collusion not being for or against any political party, but that alleged state-sponsored “troll farms” are seeking to sew discord across Western democracies in general. Putin has found a way to win a war with America without deploying any troops, simply by getting Americans to turn on each other.

If you use Twitter or Facebook you’ll see that when someone gives an opinion that’s textbook right or left-wing, they’re accused of being a Russian bot. You can usually tell if they really are with a quick profile check, as the account is probably less than a month old and yet has 5,000+ followers. The profile picture is either not an image of a person, or is a stock photo of some kind. However, because it parrots their personal opinions and people don’t check before they “endorse”, thousands still like and retweet the content of the bot.

There’s proof that these troll farms exist, and that they exist in Russia, but to be convincing enough as genuine concerned US citizens, they’ll need to use a US IP address, right?

This is where the conspiracy seeps in, and I wish I’d checked out of this morning blog post three minutes ago, because I loathe speculation.

What if workers at these (alleged) state-sponsored Russian troll-farms are using American IPs to spread discord and distrust on social media, but they’re then checking their own personal social media (VK) and searching the web (Yandex) from the same device? It would be kind-of sloppy of them, but what if these websites are the home-pages on the devices they use? So it’s what automatically pops up whenever they change their IP.

I don’t know, I just find it hard to believe that more Americans are using Russian social media and search engines, than are watching The Handmaids Tale or ordering groceries online or buying the iPhone 15.X. Mainly because I’ve had conversations about these things with Americans, sometimes even strangers, but never have we discussed the benefits of using VK over Facebook, or how Yandex is a really rad search engine.

Maybe because nobody says rad anymore — But they should dammit!

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You can look up the Alexa rankings for yourself, a service powered by Amazon that tracks web-usage country by country. If it were rigged they’d probably put Amazon at the top, so I’m inclined to believe the data is legitimate.

As I said at the beginning, I would love nothing more than for someone to educate me on why these two websites are so popular in the US. It’s not as though China’s top search engine and social media are big-hitters on this side of the world, so why are Russia’s? It all just seems a little suspicious given the current climate.

If there’s one takeaway from all of this, that holds true regardless of whether or not this is all just conspiratorial thinking, it’s that you should be vigilant online.

I’ve written and preached on multiple occasions that you should always check your sources, so that you know where and who your news is coming from. But you should also critically examine anything you see on social media when it comes from someone you don’t know.

If your Facebook friend goes off on a racist rant then you know that’s just Jerry being Jerry, he’s an arse but you know him and you know he’s not a Russian troll. But if John America with 5,000 followers says:

“Interesting how we’re looking at Trump when IN FACT Hilary has managed to escape prison on several occasions for running pedophile rings below pizza parlours??? #lockherup #MAGA”

Then you should maybe be suspicious about where that information comes from.


Today is Friday, September 14th and I really do hope you all have great weekends. Stay safe and be kind.

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Will Steven Crowder Ever Change His Mind?

You may know Steven Crowder as a human meme; The person in the original ‘Change My Mind’ image who was photoshopped in support of a variety of increasingly bizarre causes.

That’s also how I first learned of Crowder, which raises entirely separate issues in regards to us being careful of what we deem memetic. If I could follow his content rabbit-hole to learn about his method of debate, I guarantee that impressionable, marginalised teenagers who’ve never been hugged have done the same.

The ‘Change My Mind’ image is from a popular video series made my Crowder, in which he takes a political stance on something, e.g ‘Build the Wall: Change My Mind’ or ‘Hate Speech Isn’t Real: Change My Mind’, and asks people to approach him and attempt to… well…change his mind, obviously.

Other than the shock-factor topics of discussion it seems like an innocent enough format. He’s clearly adopting online troll tactics, by baiting any potential debaters with a shocking headline that he knows will rub them the wrong way — but at least he’s doing it in person, right? He’s not just hiding behind some keyboard and spouting opinions into the world, as I’m currently doing, right this second.

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I try and see the best in people, no matter who they are, so to begin with I attempted to look for the positives in his format — but beyond the fact that he’s doing it out in the open and owning his own opinions without a faceless, nameless avatar, I couldn’t find a single one.

He presents his format as a debate, or a friendly chat, a casual discussion even. He really lays it on at the start of each video by letting us know that he’s non-confrontational, backing it up by leaning casually and drinking a hot beverage, because drinking a hot beverage connotes relaxation.

The confrontational question, his then-confrontational style and him personally attacking people’s ideologies from a trolling and mocking perspective, obviously contradicts his set-up, but that’s exactly why he does it. If he tells his viewers at the start of the video that he’s not going to do something, but then does it anyway, they’ll remember what he said at the beginning and defend his actions that directly oppose his own words.

It’s clear from his videos, and his larger content network, that Crowder has absolutely zero interest in having his mind changed. If his mind were to be changed he’d no-longer be a hard-conservative social commentator, which is how he makes a living. His job is to have these opinions and to generate as much money as possible by holding these views. So changing Crowder’s mind is an impossible task for any potential debater.

More major criticisms of the format are the locations which he sets up his booths and the people he then speaks to (or the ones who aren’t edited out anyway). Typically he sets up his table on college campuses, in order to debate college-age students. Now, I know that students can be intelligent, articulate and passionate, but I also know that they have less life experience than Crowder.

Crowder used to work for Fox News, has produced content for Breitbart and now has his own digital media empire that includes his own show, YouTube channel and plenty of that sweet sweet merchandise.

My point is that Crowder has been in more debates, discussions and on-camera scenarios than most (if not all) students in America. He’s not debating his social equals, and a part of me has to wonder if there’s a reason for that.

In fact, the only people who he ends up debating on-camera are people who fall for the bait of the format in the first place. Anyone with legitimate critical thinking skills can see that the format is a set-up to feed Crowder’s ego and increase his viewers. Any possible ways of legitimately changing his mind would be edited out in post, or simply diverted away from by Crowder.

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He’s like watching Bill O’Reilly grow-up in real-time

Another power-dynamic he utilises is the use of only one microphone. In most videos he holds the microphone and pulls it away from his volunteer at any point that he wishes to interject. Him pointing the microphone in their direction and leaning back creates the illusion of free-speech and open-discussion for the person he’s talking to — “I’m giving you the right to something you should already have anyway” — is the connotation there.

The use of two microphones would really help his cause in terms of creating the illusion of a fair debate, but it would also stop him from being able to instantly silence his opponent.

We can look to the YouTube comment-sections of his videos, or to the live crowd during his live ‘Socialism is Evil: Change My Mind’ broadcast to see the kinds of people who follow and support Crowder. They’re people who ready to lap-up hate and “own the libs” at a moment’s notice, but I don’t blame them.

As I said at the start, the only people who would think that this format is a fair, open and insightful debate are those who’re impressionable, marginalised and have never been sincerely hugged.

Crowder is the one peddling his carefully controlled and edited version of reality, and they’re eating it up as though he actually cares about anything other than his viewing figures increasing, and his pockets being lined. Remember, this guy is a hard-right conservative, which means wealth and personal gain are a self-admitted driving force of his ideology.

I’ve thought about what I would say if I were at the table with Crowder, but in the live broadcast he faces someone who uses calm logic and example-based evidence, so he resorts to name-calling and relying on the cheering crowd who’re (mostly) on his side. So no matter what you say, he will control the environment to give himself the illusion of a victory, so I wouldn’t even sit down at the table.

However, if I had to, I’d ask him why he believes the things he does, and then I’d listen. Oftentimes both sides of the debate have facts and statistics to support their argument, but he must’ve landed on his side for a reason. I’d love to listen to the whys of Steven Crowder, to really get to the heart of his personal stances.

Nobody who believes that we should treat hard-working people with contempt (anti-social mobility), or that Kwanza isn’t a real holiday (xenophobic), or that you can’t possibly use hate-speech towards another person because it doesn’t exist (arsehole) — I’m just going to say that nobody who believes those things had a happy childhood.

Steven Crowder Needs a Hug and a Therapist: Change My Mind.


Today is Thursday, September 13th and I am a left-leaning social democrat, own me.

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On Hurricanes

I remember eating a continental breakfast at a hotel in Seattle around this time last year. I’d been in the US for almost two weeks, Audra and I were in the first days of our honeymoon, and the Pacific Northwest was living up to the lofty standards I had formed in my dreams.

That morning, the TV screens in the hotel breakfast bar were plastered with footage from Hurricane Irma. It was one of those moments that made me realise that America is an entirely different country. This reads like a fairly idiotic comment, I should explain.

I always knew I was moving to a different society, one made up of largely the same language but with different people, places and climates, but seeing such natural destruction on screen with the knowledge that it’s taking place within the borders of your new home — it was a fresh kind of shock.

Granted, I live in land-locked Colorado and we were honeymooning by taking a tour of the Pacific Northwest. So a tropical storm is hardly a danger to me personally, but my empathy levels tend to go haywire during times of mass tragedy.

The reality-blurs of stepping off the plane and onto American soil had warn-off before the honeymoon, and I’d settled into the pocket of existence I’d been working towards for over two years. A new excitement hit me as we arrived in Seattle, but it was more comparable to the feeling you get when you arrive at your holiday destination; It’s your actuality for now, but you’ll need to give it back soon enough.

I had been comfortable for a couple of weeks, and so seeing the destruction on screen, reported by the American news from American soil, really shook me.

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As Hurricane Florence threatens to cause destruction over the next few days, I can’t help but wonder if this is all just business as usual for the East coast — That I’m overreacting by letting myself go sleepless at the thought of the sudden loss of life at the hands of the elements. It could be that the people who’re used to hurricanes are just more resilient and made of tougher stuff than my sensitive soul, one that has never experienced anything more than a heavy thunder-storm.

It appears as though everyone is taking the precautions needed, to the best of their abilities. Families are heading into hurricane shelters or moving out of the path of the storm. Stores have been picked-clean of the bare essentials. There’s probably some kind of irony involved in a disaster that’ll drop millions of gallons of water from the sky, leading to stores selling out of bottled water — but it’s forced and messy, like this whole sentence has been.

Hurricane Irma resulted in at least 134 deaths, with 92 being from the United States. But they had so much time to prepare, the storm warnings had been in place for a week, isn’t that enough time to escape the path of the hurricane? This was a question I asked myself as the death toll was announced.

Well, the reality of it is that some people can’t afford to get away. They might not have friends or family who can help them evacuate, especially if they’re older and less able to move. Some people even found themselves in situations where the loss of their physical home would mean they were as good as dead, as it was all they had left.

I remember seeing an interview with an older woman who said she was staying where she was, in her home; That she’d faced storms before, and she’d face them again. There was never an update on whether she survived, and the cynic in me wants to call her foolish and idiotic for making that decision in the first place. But there was a resiliency to her words, a defiance, and who am I to question how another person gambles with their own life?

This time around, most people in the Carolinas and Virginia appear to be evacuating, as a hurricane in this part of the country is rarer than in Florida or along the South coast.

Donald Trump, Mike Pence

There’s a story floating around this morning about the Trump administration diverting $10million of funds from FEMA to ICE, and there are enough sources (including a memo) to say that this is true. However, FEMA say that they’re fully financially equipped to deal with the fallout of this “once in a lifetime” storm, and the FEMA representative answered any questions about the memo with sincerity and assuredness of their preparedness.

I’m all for highlighting the evils of the Trump administration, but this is a shift of finance that would’ve happened this summer regardless of whether or not a hurricane was about to hit the East coast. This administration carries out enough twisted and repulsive actions without needing to distort the truth in order to make them appear worse.

Most of the headlines read as though Trump personally took money from the Hurricane Florence relief pot, in order to lock children up in cages. While evidence suggests that he and his administration care more about detaining and deporting illegal immigrants than protecting Americas own children, this is not one of those times.

While this story isn’t false, it is a conveniently timed truth, and the media needs to be better than that, as stories like this only fuel the opinions of the right, that they’re bias. Trump can be defeated with cold, hard facts — timed truths and linked stories are unnecessary.

My thoughts this week are with anyone who is effected by Hurricane Florence. My heart is heavy and I hope that the relief efforts are swift, and that FEMA is as prepared as it possibly can be.

To those who believe that legalising gay marriage has caused this hurricane; Consider taking a trip to the Carolinas this Friday, I’m certain God will protect you. I had to be cynical about something this morning, and the fundamentalists are just such an easy target.

I love that everything is bigger, brighter and bolder in America — But I wish nobody had told the weather.


Today is Wednesday, September 12th and if I don’t win something in our fantasy WWE league this weekend I’m going to…do nothing probably.

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Rogan/Musk

It’s our generation’s Frost/Nixon. Brilliant…

One of the major talking points of last week was an appearance by real-life cartoon billionaire, Elon Musk, on the Joe Rogan Experience. The image of Musk smoking weed went viral, and within hours he became the face of the American mid-life crisis. His “on-air” pot-smoking caught the attention of media outlets, who appeared to vilify him for his recreational actions.

Musk has made a lot of terrible humanitarian decisions and said some fairly awful things, smoking some weed is the very least of his public “crimes”. Tesla shareholders are likely ecstatic that the media spent last week talking about him smoking legal marijuana on a video podcast, and not his unfounded accusations against cave-divers, his dictatorial anti-union stance or his mistreatment of foreign workers in the name of progress.

muskweed

I watched the full interview between the two, because largely I’m curious about the subjects Musk discusses and despite my opinions on Joe Rogan as a person, his interview style is genuinely one of the best out there.

Rogan lets his guests talk for hours on end and he looks for honest conversation with no agenda beyond letting the guest speak for themselves. He doesn’t ask probing questions, because he’s not a journalist, and he gets the guests he does for such extended periods of time because they know he’s not going to push them on difficult areas.

Think of that what you will, but a by-product of his style is his guests end up saying some things that they would never say to a journalist. If you read between the friendly dynamic between him and his guest, and don’t fall for the opinion that Rogan himself wants you to have of his guest (Alex Jones being a prime example), then his interviews are a fascinating incite into the mind of his subject.

Rogan himself is a people-pleaser, he may not think that, but he absolutely is. He bends over backwards to the ideology of his interviewee (unless discussing marijuana) — and if this is a designed style then it’s borderline genius. However, the way he knowingly discusses topics he doesn’t understand the first thing about, shows that he’s not as smart as he thinks he is.

Unless, of course, that is also by design. He’s a complex figure, who I think has been influenced too much by his “good-friend” Alex Jones, and so is attempting to play a character but falling short of the mark. He’s smart enough to think he’s smart, but not smart enough to realise he’s not.

You shouldn’t form your opinion on someone from the opinions of others, but the comment sections of his YouTube videos are an absolute state. I’ve noticed that Rogan gets a lot of dislikes and negative comments (on older videos) whenever he’s critical of conspiracy theories or far-right ideologies. Being the people-pleaser he is, my concern is that he’s less critical of these stances (in newer videos) in order to increase the happiness of his followers. Thankfully, he’s stood his ground when it comes to flat-earth conspiracies.

That’s just a theory of course — As I say he’s simultaneously a complex yet simplistic figure. Like, how can a person who openly uses psychedelics still have such an ego? The man’s a paradox.

His Jon Ronson and Louis Theroux interviews are great though.

joerogan

So that’s our Frost — but what about our Nixon?

Elon Musk came across as thoughtful, insightful, terrified, disconnected and fatalistic. He appears to care far less about individual people than the average person, but far more about our species as a whole than anyone I’ve met. It’s why he doesn’t want his workers having any basic rights to unionise, and he doesn’t seem fussed by the alarmingly low wages of his foreign employees. Those are issues that effect the individual. If a worker can’t feed their family, that’s not the concern of Elon R. Musk.

However, he becomes very disheartened and shows genuine emotion when discussing the fate of our species. The first hour of the podcast is spent talking about the dangers of AI and how far companies are going in order to be the leader of the market, all without thinking about the consequences.

I haven’t smoked weed in over three months, but I felt as though I needed something after the weight of his discussion.

Musk talks like a smart child who’s never been told no — he does things when he wants, because he feels like it. So the fact that he’s curbing his own AI usage and advocating that other companies and governments do the same is kind of remarkable. In short, he should be far more evil than he actually is.

I don’t like him as a person, due to our fundamental disagreement on human rights, but if we absolutely have to have billionaires, then I’d rather they were all more like Elon Musk.

That’s so difficult for me to type because I think the world would be happier if he launched himself into the sun, but we do live in a world of rampant, toxic capitalism, where men like Musk race to the top of the wealth tree without remembering to kick some acorns down for the rest of us. We’re in a new-age of the industrial Robber Baron, which if Musk was a little more aware, he’d realise that this is the truly damaging aspect of our species and give his excess wealth to charitable causes.

However — What about the 99% of billionaires who don’t make the headlines? What about the billionaires who aren’t wearing their (robotic) hearts on their sleeves, as musk is.

EVERY billionaire is mistreating their workers, that’s how you become a billionaire in the first place. I’d just rather they were open and honest about it, as Musk is. I’m truly anxious about the billionaires who don’t do three-hour podcast interviews, who don’t go on 2am Twitter rants to reveal exactly who they are as a person. If Musk is the way he is, but he’s out in the open, how are the ones living under rocks behaving?

To summarise — Musk is a shit, but he’s the cleanest and most palatable shit on a pile of even bigger and worse shits. Oh shit.


Today is Tuesday, September 11th and never forget the innocent lives lost in a terrorist attack on this day, but also remember the innocent daughters, sons, sisters, brothers and children killed by the US in retaliation. We’re all messed up.

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