Mistakes were made

Today so far has seen a few mistakes, while they might seem little, the cause and effect multiplied the magnitude of each one emotionally.

The first one wasn’t really my mistake but it certainly did start the whole process. So I go down stairs to make some food, put some garlic bread in the over (usually takes around 18 minutes to cook) and after around 8 minutes I go put put some chips in the air fryer, lone behold there’s some mushrooms that someone forgot to take out after cooking them last night. If there’s one thing I’ve learned its that if the air fryer is not cleaned after cooking food like this, then my chips usually pick up the taste and its just not cool. So I wash it but by this time its too late for the chips to be ready in time to eat with the garlic bread.

My next mistake involved everyone’s favourite fast food outlet, McDonalnds. Giving that I have nothing to do today and I’m still hungry from my lackluster attempt to cook dinner at home I decide to go for a walk, usually I go down by the coast, grab some food from the Mcdonalds there and sit on a bench by the cliffs. When I went outside I realized how hot it was and couldn’t be bothered to walk 50 minutes in this heat so instead got the bus into town and was planning on getting the bus, then I realized it would just be easier to go to the one in town. How wrong I was.

Being me I completely forgot that the place gets busy at dinner time so it was packed tighter than a landing craft full of American soldiers heading towards Omaha Beach. I mean, when I arrived it wasn’t that bad but as soon as I got in the queue that’s when it all went down. Got served and ordered myself a totally plain big mac with no cheese to take out, because apparently saying totally plain isn’t enough. After around 8 minutes of waiting I got my food and headed out. Ate my fries first because that’s just what you do. Moved onto the burger and there we go, came with everything but the cheese. Safe to say the struggle was real. While it was most likely my fault as when a worker shouted out my order she only mentioned no cheese, I probably should have checked to make sure that that it was my order before taking it, but the place was packed and at the time I’d rather just evacuate the premises than deal with other humans.

The bus journey home was a good all round feels trip as they normally are. Unfortunately for me I’ve had my music on so loud for so long that it just wasn’t enough anymore and was already at max volume so couldn’t go any higher either.

Such is life in spergville, nothings ever simple.

 

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Fascism

Over the past week I’ve engaged in a few discussions on Fascism, but not solely in relation to what Fascism actually is but instead it was primarily debating around the use of the word “Fascist” to describe Nigel Farage. Originally in reaction to a comment on the Times Facebook page it then dragged over into an attempt to tell the story which resulted in some of the listening parties to agree with my opponents sentiments. Safe to say it would have been an enjoyable debate had my opponents (in my opinion) not only understood what Fascism actually was but provided no substantial evidence to their point. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident whereby someone missuses the word “Fascist” to primarily demonize their opponent by associating them with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis by association. So the purpose of this is not to belittle my opponents, but to inform and educate so that when people so when you come across people like this you are prepared. Although I am by no means an expert on the subject I believe I have enough knowledge to  write a short and concise piece.

First off we must answer the question, what exactly is fascism? 

Many historians find Fascism hard to define in strict ideological terms, but some agree that it is more of a spectrum with central beliefs. The reason it is so hard to define is that there is no one central source from which the ideology derives itself from, as is the case with Das Kapital by Karl Marx is one of the key stages in the popularization of socialist thought. Some believe Fascism to have been created from a crisis of liberalism post First World War, with the failure of democracies to handle the climactic and dramatic extreme politics of the time. Others believe it to be a reactionary movement born out of the anti-Socialist sphere of politics in Europe at the time, many of whom used violence against them as a means to tackle the communist threat. Another theory is a simpler one which states that the fascist movement hearkened back to a simpler time before the industrial revolution in the mid 1800’s.

What does Fascists believe? 

While it’s origins are up for debate, there are a set of core beliefs and tenets which clearly lie at the heart of Fascism. One is that Fascism is strictly authoritarian, a core belief among fascists is that liberalism and  democracy have failed and the implementation of a strong state, a police state, centered around a single figurehead is necessary, thus focusing on a cult of personality in which all power lies.  Within the police state political freedoms are crushed and dissidents are all but eradicated for the stability and the preservation of peace.

Another is the collectivist and nationalist agenda in which individualism is rooted out in favour of policies which benefited society, one such common example is the idea that women are to be resigned to the motherhood role, focusing solely on birthing and raising the future generations. While Fascism does advocate government involvement in the economy, it wasn’t too concerned with the means of production but rather a top down managerial role.

Fascism is an ideology involved in aggressive imperialist expansion, to use the resources gained  through such endeavors for the betterment of the nation. Whether that be living space for the future generation to reside or to use the resources gained at the fuel for development and to feed their domestic economies. As a result the military becomes a focus of attention, so it gains increased funding and usually gains manpower through conscription and military service,as it needs to be prepared to engage in aggressive wars.

These are some of the core defining themes within the fascist ideology. While it does go much deeper than what has been described here, that is for another day.

Modern day use of the word “Fascism” or “Fascist”

As mentioned earlier today the word Fascism no longer has any real meaning in the common tongue. It has been supplanted primarily by those on the far-left, specifically in the antifa movement (ironic), as a byword for individuals and ideals which they disagree with. After all since the Second World War and the collapse of Fascist regimes on the continent there aren’t really any true fascists left as the ideology was basically debunked.

Unfortunately I don’t believe there will be a trend away from using “Fascist” outside of using it in the proper context and people will be willfully ignorant of its true meaning, but its just something we will just have to deal with for the time being. The best tactic we can do is to combat the use by learning what the true meaning of the word is and acquiring knowledge about Fascism so that when the time comes we can show them the truth.

 

 

 

Google Tax Avoidance Row: Search Not Found

This is something I wrote earlier on in the year when the Google tax deal was sealed between Google and HMRC. With Apple flagging up the discussion around tax avoidance I thought I’d post it to get some use out of it.

It is commonly said that only two things in life are certain, one being death, and the other taxes. While the former is ultimately unavoidable, the latter unfortunately is. Unfortunate because taxes are one of the primary ways in which government gets its funding, which in turn provides vital public services and the bureaucratic upkeep of the nation state. Taxes being the mandatory financial contribution which entities, ranging from people to corporations, make to the state.
Large commercial entities are always in the news for the amount of tax they pay or, rather, how little they pay. The most recent example of this relates to Google, who have been in negotiations with HMRC (Her Majesties Revenue and Customs). After the conclusion of a 6 year inquiry by HMRC, it has been agreed that Google will pay £130 million in corporation tax, covering the years 2005 – 2015[1]. To the average consumer this may seem like a lot of money, but in reality it is a pittance of what Google has made in the UK within the same time period. For example in 2013 Googles revenues were reported as being £3.8bn while they only paid £20.4m in taxes[2].
It is a great shame that the tax system is exploitable due to its complexity to the point where large corporations are able to avoid paying their fair share of tax while earning millions/billions. Google is not the only culprit: Amazon[3] also manipulates the system to pay a pittance of what is owed. The total tax shortfall (year 2012/2013) cost to the country amounts to well over £30bn[4] which consists of “£14bn in uncollected income tax, national insurance and capital gains tax, and £12.4bn in uncollected VAT.”[5] while the Financial Times equates £4.1bn to tax evasion and £3.1bn to tax avoidance[6]. In an age of austerity, having an extra 30bn; or at the very least an extra £7bn would be a a welcome sight, whether its used to stem the bleeding or simply reduce the deficit.

Companies have a moral responsibility to pay their due to the society which feeds them. Given the conditions which the UK generates it provides profitable business opportunities and for that it is only right that companies pay their taxes. For example, Google benefits massively from the UK, providing countless customers which use its advertisement services, combined with a user base which includes basically everyone who uses the internet bestowing substantial revenues upon them, as well as the educated workers to staff Google’s facilities which without they would not function.
It’s not only moral but social obligations too. When companies avoid or evade taxes it’s the working classes who suffer; the disadvantaged whose social mobility programmes are cut due to lack of government funding, increases in council taxes, the list goes on. The Guardian reported that by the end of 2015 NHS England will have a substantial deficit of £2.2bn[6]. Imagine that, £2.2 billion pounds sterling, and the deficit will only grow larger as time goes on unless there is significant investment, which cracking down on tax avoidance would bring, even at the financial figure the Financial Times gives, the deficit to an end and would provide funds for further investment, such as the many A&E department closures[7] could be reversed, privatization halted. Further Education, too, has had its fair share of cuts, 35% funding cut since 2009[8] for colleges, and university cuts have forced them to lean on student loans for funding. Without appropriate funds, higher education establishments will inevitably cut corners on students’ education, resulting in fewer courses available, less qualified teachers, maybe even less hours for full time students. Ironically, this will culminate in a skills shortage which in turn could cause these same companies, who fail their duties, to suffer from a lack of educated workers.
In an effort to combat this, however, George Osborne unveiled what has since been dubbed the “Google Tax”. This simply put will be a tax of 25% for money shifted by companies overseas to avoid paying UK corporation tax [9].
While tax evasion is an illegal practice and tax avoidance is legal but not within the spirit of the law, both still persist in this capitalist society, breeding greed and ignorance like an Ant Queen breeds workers for the colony. As such the working class suffer, which in turn society suffers, and we’re poorer for it. Will the Chancellor’s efforts to clamp down on companies shifting profits overseas to avoid tax pay off? Only time will tell.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35381130 [1] [2]
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3139123/Amazon-pays-just-11-9m-tax-5-3bn-worth-UK-sales.html [3]
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/01/welfare-fraud-tax-avoidance [4]
http://www.theweek.co.uk/62461/which-costs-more-benefit-fraud-or-tax-avoidance [5]
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/20/nhs-deficit-soars-to-16bn [6]
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/14/emergency-departments-fighting-for-life-nhs-marketisation [7]
http://feweek.co.uk/2015/03/25/government-cuts-could-decimate-adult-education-by-2020-aoc-warns/ [8]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31942639 [9]

Disservice to Liberty

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!

This was once the cry of French revolutionaries from centuries gone as they tore down the archaic monarchy of old for the new in the creation of a republic. How times have changed since then. Of course what I’m talking about here is the debate around the burkini, which flared up recently as the Mayor of the French Riviera town of Cannes has banned the garb from their shores.

No doubt this will be seen by some as but another battle in the culture war for Europe, in which the fight is between the supposedly increasing islamification of Europe and their host European cultures. After all France is one of the few European counties who have banned the burqa, which many on the right believe it to be a symbol Islams oppression of women and it “simply doesn’t fit into an open society” [1].

Thus the burkini was banned in an attempt to keep the peace, as due to the recent terror attacks upon France herself the burkini was at risk of “disrupting public order”, accused of being a garb which affiliates itself with terrorist organisations[2]. Although this hasn’t stopped people from wearing it, despite facing fines and having to remove them on the spot.

Kudos to those who refuse to abide by this, unlike the banning of the burqa in which the face is covered (where the main issue arises), the burkini is basically a swimming suit with a headscarf attached to it. Whatever reasons people have for wanting to ban such apparel it really doesn’t stand up to reality, the freedom which exists in the West is something to be cherished, the burkini is a representation of this freedom and does no harm to anyone so why should it have been banned? Luckily a French court thought the same thing and saw the banning as a “violation of basic freedoms” [3].

No doubt this won’t be the end of this, but it has encouraged a healthy debate around such issues which is never a bad thing.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/08/19/germanys-potential-burqa-ban-has-a-problem-where-are-the-burqas/ [1]

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/11/burkinis-banned-on-cannes-riviera-beaches-by-french-mayor/ [2]

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/burkini-ban-cannes-latest-overturned-french-court-rules-violates-basic-freedoms-a7216901.html [3]

Fight Club

The first rule of Fight Club, you never talk about Fight Club.

Well, guess rules were meant to be broken anyway. After hearing the fight club memes referring to the first rule and consistently seeing Fight Club appear on those top 10 video series on YouTube I thought I’d give it a watch. Safe to say it was a bit of a strange film given it consisted of clear psychotic disorders, complete and utter attention seeking and apparent acts of terrorism against credit card companies to free everyone from debt. I mean, there was nothing particularly mind blowing about the film, but none the less I enjoyed it.

There was a point where I thought it was trying to spread a message to the viewers, be yourself. When I mean be yourself, it wasn’t about just doing what you feel like, it was about removing the layers of identity and personality such as the clothes one wears, the job your have or the amount of money in your bank. It was all about taking it back to what really matters, whats inside. Bit of an unexpected anti-consumerist and individualist message in a film about a fight club, which then turned itself into a terrorist cell? Thats something.

Another thing I enjoyed wasn’t the twist near the end of the film where it turns out the main characters (who’s name I don’t think is ever mentioned) friend (Tyler) was actually just his imaginary friend, a mental manifestation of all the things he wanted to be but couldn’t. Presumably Tyler was created as a representation of all the failings that the main character thought of himself but couldn’t be because of the psychological barriers built up over the years, to fit in to a world where he must accept the social constructs put upon him by society under the guise of realism. Again strange, never expected this from the film at all.

Overall it is a reasonably enjoyably film, nothing special about it but nothing terrible either. Just good another good performance from Brad Pitt.

Wanting to be something

Do you ever get that feeling that you’ll never achieve anything in life? I don’t just mean the simple things like getting a job, a house or even a wife and family. I’m talking about achievements that will echo through the annals of history. This feeling, it comes and goes,  it takes hold with a quite severe emotional bombardment which can be likened to that of artillery fire on the Western Front, the explosions the ripples of thoughts and feelings we go through.

It always finds its way back whenever I watch films about important historical events, great leadership figures and political masterminds. Such as the Chinese film 1911 Revolution, which details the events of the uprising against the Qing Dynasty and the creation of the republic is what caused a return for such emotions. For seeing such achievements, whether it be fighting for a cause, fighting on the front lines in the revolution to secure a better life for their fellow countrymen, dying in the mud to help the dream become realized. Or taking charge of a political movement, leading the charge into the battle of wits and intellect, the battle for the heart and souls of the people. It is disheartening because in comparison I look in the mirror at myself and I see nothing.

Another is to die fighting in a final stand, like that of the sacrifice of the mythical Leonidas and his 300 Spartan brothers who fought against all odds to defend Greece from the Persian invaders at the Hot Gates. For in a final stand there is nothing that comes after, here is the manifestation of the ultimate sacrifice which is made, giving ones life knowing that there is no way out, to die a noble death for ideals which can never be forgotten.

For when I see their achievements right here before me, I always know that I’ll never be among them, that I’ll never be great enough or achieve anything to merit my transcendence to history. Whether it be tales of heroic sacrifices on the field of battle or their place as leaders in revolutions to change their country and its destiny. I’ll always envy them, wishing I could be in their positions to achieve something in life.

Maybe its my own fault for giving into such delusions of grandeur? that I should be more realistic about what it is possible for me to achieve with the hand life has given me. I mean, is it wrong to want to achieve something in life?  To be remembered?

 

Conspiracy: Harambe meets Godzilla?

This weekend saw the release of the new stand alone set in Magic: The Gathering called Conspiracy: Take the Crown. The sequel to 2014’s Conspiracy. The difference with these sets from normal releases is that they were designed to be played in a multiplayer draft format, with mechanics which would add many different ways to make the drafting part of the event more interesting and increase the fun (now fun depends on who you draft with).

Luckily for me at my Local Gaming Store (LGS) the fun is all around thanks to a guy who I knew from way back, both meme enthusiasts and with a similar sense of humour it was easy to achieve. One such even was the resurrection of the god king of memes Harambe. A new card in the set (where the art was literally a gorilla with tusks and wings) is drafted face up, and gives you the ability to remove a card from the draft, giving most keywords in magic to Harambe. So as I was next to the guy I would look at what was left in the pack and ensured he would receive another keyword for Harambe, letting out a snigger as I passed to which the reaction when he saw what I passed him was always a good laugh and announcement that Harambe was only growing stronger. In a great twists of fate the irony was that every time he was cast, something would happen within a few turns which would kill him and he would call us the worst zookeepers in history.

Even after the drafting stage was completed and decks were built, the fun was only just beginning. For next comes the politics of multiplayer games. Who do I attack? When do I attack? do I kill this monstrous creature now or do I wait for him to attack me with it and let it run rampant on my opponents? always the fun of multiplayer, unique and fulfilling. Oh and to add pop culture reference to the mix, casting Subterranean Tremors where X = 8 and proclaiming Godzilla has arrived (when you cast where X = 8 or more you get an 8/8 lizard token which looks a lot like Godzilla) while wrathing the board is quite fun.

Overall an incredibly enjoyable weekend.