Archive for free speech

Free Women?

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2011 by AF

I’ve vacillated almost endlessly, unable to decide whether to post this, or not. I suspect some people I respect will misunderstand me or my intentions. In the end, though, I’ve decided that I should stop being a coward and say it, right or wrong, so here goes…

For once I want to be serious. Jeez! I know! It doesn’t happen very often, does it? Look out for a blue moon tonight and watch out for the odd flying pig too.

However, to my mind, the question mark in my title does say a great deal about the subject of this post. Are women free, or liberated these days? Well, particularly in some cultures, just as was true thousands of years ago, some plainly are. Also, it’s perhaps a far greater proportion now than it once was during recent centuries – in the West at least. But I have to admit that I don’t think that most are all that free at all.

Then again, some would argue that relatively few people of either gender are free in any real sense of the word, but I suppose the question most women would really be asking is: are women today at least as free as their equivalent men of today? I suspect the answer to that question when asked in general terms is still a resounding NO.

Before I attempt to explain why, I ask you to please take a good look at a great article from a clever and talented lady. It makes some entirely valid and well argued points. It’s also something with which I entirely agree in principle at least. Conversely, I almost totally disagree with it as well, on a very different level.

I know – that’s as clear as mud, isn’t it? I guess I’d better pause here whilst you go for a quick read of the excellent article right here

Done? Okay then. Now, if you’ve looked at the post in the link, then I hope you’ll understand when I say that I can’t disagree in the slightest with the sentiments at least and that I think all the behaviour and phrases quoted are clearly of an unpleasant nature (certainly when used publicly) and not a way in which I hope I would ever regard or behave towards any woman. Nevertheless, the comment quoted as being from Charlie Sheen (for instance) only serves to demonstrate that he apparently knows practically nothing about real women and very little about sex either, but then some people have extremely limited imaginations. In any event, he’s only playing up to the role he’s picked for himself (or that has been picked for him) in the eyes of his ‘fans’.

Equally, I should point out that it’s not all one-sided and I don’t much like the way some women refer to men and stereotype them either, but (as the rather graphic saying goes) shit happens and I’m not going to lose any sleep over it, or dignify people like that by giving a damn about them – they are what they are – usually rather stupid and pretty ignorant, in my opinion.

The simple and absolute fact is that some men hate women and some women hate men. No one can change that truth by legislating, or complaining, or anything else (unless you’re prepared to shoot them of course), because they think what they think and every time you highlight their behaviour, you simply increase their importance. Most people are not that pathetic, so why would you care about a stupid minority of insignificant jerks? Marginalise them and they and their ilk will eventually become almost invisible.

There are women’s issues that desperately need to be addressed, such as equal pay for equal work and real equality of opportunity regardless of gender, though childbirth is a factor to be considered in some cases, whether anyone likes it or not. This post is not the place or occasion to discuss the subject in detail, but these days and for most women, the decision to bear children is just that – a choice. I can see no reason whatsoever why an employer should be forced to manipulate reality in order to try to ensure that such a choice does not affect the career prospects of the individual. I believe that positive discrimination is just as evil as negative discrimination.

All that said, although I write fiction, there is a recurring theme in much of what I produce, particularly in my sci-fi stories and it’s that most women of the future are strong and liberated. In my tales, whatever their individual hang-ups and insecurities, future women have largely achieved equality and even superiority at times by one simple means – as a gender, they DON’T GIVE A DAMN what any man thinks! Of course, I’m not talking about personal relationships, those are always excepted, private and should be what suits and is developed by the individuals involved for themselves. Outside of that, I’m a passionate believer in the equality of women, but I’m also sure that they’ll never achieve it if they remain dependent on men being nice to them, frequently not saying what they think and allowing it to occur because it’s some kind of decent thing to do. It simply won’t happen!

Men don’t care much what women (as a whole gender, rather than as individuals) think of them, but women on the other hand are all too often demanding that men in general should view them differently from the way they do. That is not only unrealistic and doomed to failure, it’s a dreadful weakness and they will not succeed in achieving their goals until they manage to move on from that and cast off the shackles of such limiting ideas.

So, there you go. I say again, I think the article in the link is superb, but I do think it also highlights a weakness in the female cause. That, for what it’s worth, is my opinion. Still, no one ever took much notice of my views in the past, so I can’t imagine that anything will change significantly on this occasion.


So, I’m A Blog Stalker

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , on May 10, 2010 by AF

I was wandering around the blogosphere (as I have a habit of doing from time to time) and I came across an interesting site here – the specific post I’ve linked is by the blogger’s daughter and it seemed like a pretty good one to me, but I liked much of the rest of the blog too. I noticed also, though, that it said quite prominently that if I didn’t comment, I was just a blog stalker.

I get the sentiments and I imagine it’s just a fun comment – a light-hearted joke designed to encourage comments. However, in spite of the reproach, I didn’t comment – I might do so yet, but I didn’t on that occasion – so I guess that makes me a blog stalker…

To take it just a touch more seriously for a moment, though, there are many reasons for not commenting – not least of which is the simple fact that I wasn’t (as I’m often not) logged into a blogging ID. Secondly is the fact that the blog is on Blogspot (Blogger), which if security is enabled (especially with word verification engaged too – why do people bother with all that junk?) is simply too much of a pain in the arse to bother with, unless you really, really have something you want to say.

In view of all this, I’d like to make a plea to all bloggers out there to take off all the controls and security features you reasonably can and see if it helps (in time) to encourage a better and freer “community spirit”. If your trust is abused, you can quickly block the abuser, or reinstate the controls one at a time until it stops  – it’s hardly rocket science.

Like most bloggers, I also like it when people take the trouble to comment, but I understand when they don’t – it’s their right and I’m pleased if they have (hopefully) visited and read what I write. I have the Akismet spam filter in place and very occasionally a genuine reply gets caught by that, but it’s rare – other than that, if you want to say something here, please feel free and, if I really detest or am offended by what you say, I can just delete it, can’t I? So, what’s the big deal?

Everyone seems to be more and more nervous about almost everything these days and we appear to be becoming almost afraid of our own shadows. I’m not sure, though, that the fear of the threats most people seem to be afraid of isn’t often far worse than the “threats” themselves – if they exist at all.

So, if you want to comment here, then I’ll (probably) be delighted to read what you have to say, but if you don’t, then I’m almost as pleased that you at least stopped by and read my drivel. On the other hand, if you didn’t, then I won’t of course know about the fact and you won’t know I wrote this, so neither of us should be upset about that either, should we?


So What’s The Problem With Sex?

Posted in People, Society and Politics, Scandalous! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2010 by AF

What is all this fuss we make about sex? Something that JJ said in this excellent post on her blog (The Fifty Factor) confused me a little – well, it certainly made me question some things I previously took for granted, at least.

Listing some of what she does and doesn’t blog about, Joanna said this, Generally, I will not blog about… […] Sex. In the event that it could ultimately bite me in the butt should I decide to run for an elected office, I’ll keep this topic to myself.”

Now I don’t know how serious she is about that statement because she can be a very funny lady, but I suspect there’s at least some truth in it. I was… well, I was quite shocked, particularly in view of some of the things she does blog about (often in jest). My surprise was not due to what she said, but more by the realisation that she felt she needed to think that way.

I mean, what is our modern world about? We in the West, in reality if not in name, are currently fighting at least two major wars and suffering casualties; huge earthquakes are devastating whole countries, or so it seems; terrorism is everywhere; politicians appear to be less honest by the day as they steal public money, lie through their teeth about important matters under consideration by the administration in power and much more; huge debates are taking place in the US over healthcare for millions of Americans and (to an outsider at least) the rich v the poor battle seems to get daily closer to them killing each other in the streets, whilst still others are warning of the impending doom that awaits mankind because of global warming…

All that is going on and is just a small sample of the awful state of humanity and, if JJ is right, it looks like the public and their favourite media (and the Brits are just the same) are most concerned about who is sleeping with whom and what they like to do to each other in bed.

As I said once before quite recently, certainly in any sort of critical manner, I try to stay off of the twin dodgy subjects of religion and politics, but really… perlee-ease! How will humanity ever progress if sex is the factor that is going to be the most contentious and important in the world of politics, of all places? It has nothing whatsoever to do with it!

If politicians are screwing me financially, or bureaucratically, then it matters to me! But what they do of a sexual nature to each other, or any other consenting adult, is none of my goddamned business and, frankly, I neither care nor want to know about it!

A Question I Feel I Just Have To Ask

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by AF

This is a serious matter and I apologise right now if I’m going to offend any of the Americans who read my blog because I feel I “know” many of you (to a greater or lesser degree) and, as far as I can tell, you’re all nice, kind and decent people. Some of you are, of course, also gorgeous women (I’m sure you will know who you are) and that worries me even more, since it is not in my nature to intentionally insult any woman, particularly one who is both beautiful and adorable, however much I might disagree with her.

Nevertheless, I feel this question should be asked. Many of you got the President you desired (a heck of a lot of you voted for him) and you are mostly caring and responsible citizens. So, since Barack Obama is the USA’s knight in shining armour and unless it is just the way it appears to me (and a lot of others I’ve spoken to about it)… when do you think America might stop landing endless troops and military hardware on Haiti and do something more positive about organising and distributing the huge amount of food, water and medical supplies that are so desperately needed by the surviving population there and that is unquestionably readily available through the amazing international response that the disaster has produced?

If I’m out of order, or being overly cynical, then I will expect you to tell me, but (from what I’ve read, seen and heard on UK TV and other news sources) it does seem to me that the US perhaps sees this as a golden opportunity to finally take control of Haiti and quell its rebellious attitudes and maybe even to turn it into the fifty first state, but without any of the labour protection laws that mainlanders enjoy?

It’s just a question, but…

Addendum: Please let me make it plain here (since it may not be) I’m not criticising Americans, or even America, I’m simply questioning whether the military is so busy being military that it has lost sight of what’s paramount here and additionally I think it’s right to question the motives of some powerful factions of the US administration…

Faith By Nature

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by AF

By its very nature, faith is something that is accepted – taken as read – without there being any “hard” evidence to support it. A belief in something one can see, or hear, even directly see the effects of in action, is not faith. The very word itself implies trust in the truth of a belief without anything external to back it up at all and the expression “blind faith” is simple tautology because faith by its very nature blindly follows an idea.

I, as I’ve mentioned before, am not religious, but I do respect those that are and there are times when I (almost) envy those that have faith. In fact, some of the nicest, funniest, most open-minded and well balanced people I know, or have come into contact with on the internet, are religious. An example of one such is the delightful PJ and you can see her blog here. My favourite quote of hers is, “I don’t understand why humanity can’t play nice and share.” To me that says it all really!

How, then, does it come about that some of the worst and what I would regard as downright evil people are also apparently extremely devout in their beliefs?

Personally, I think that the best thing about Christianity and many other religions too is the tolerance they preach. The worst thing about them is their acquisitive nature – the insistence that their disciples should go out and “convert” the rest of us to their particular beliefs. That, of course, is the standard methodology used by all large sales organisations to whip up incentive and motivate their sales teams. “Go get ’em. What we have is the best in the world. Everyone needs it whether they know it or not!” is the theme used to get the best out of sales representatives the world over. It has a second function too and that is to “bind” the group together; to make them feel part of a “family”. The secondary result in turn of that is to increase the “them and us” feelings of the group – “us” against the rest.

In my view, that belief in the group is often what seems to initially drive the evangelical brigade and it then translates into a need for the individual to justify to him or her self their continued adhesion to the cause and which some part of them that they will not admit to even to themselves, probably rejects their faith. Consequently, any dissention or alternative opinion is regarded as a threat to their “family”; to their beliefs; to their faith; to what has become their raison d’être.

Beware the superficially faithful who are apparently fanatical in their beliefs for, without any real independent depth to their own personalities to fall back on, their biggest fear is becoming faithless.

Lovely people like PJ on the other hand are, I think, simply confident and happy in what they believe themselves and don’t give a darn what other people think of that – and good for them!

What do you guys think?

Another Chat With Big G

Posted in Chats With Big G with tags , , , , , , , on September 11, 2009 by AF

I know you must be busy, but...Look, God, Big G – you don’t mind if I call you Big G do you? Anyway, if you’re for real, then you must be aware that I don’t actually believe in you, but I can’t imagine you’d truly hold that against me – it is after all an honestly held opinion, unlike some who profess to believe… just in case, eh?

So, that being the situation, I’m sure you’re not bothered if I blather on a bit from time to time like this. Well, that is if I’m wrong about you and you’re really there. If I’m right and you’re not… well, it doesn’t matter does it? Either way, I suspect I’m only talking to myself. It’s a bit like blogging actually – you do it because you feel a need, but you’re rarely quite sure if there’s actually anyone out there taking much notice, if any. That doesn’t stop you though, does it? Well, it doesn’t stop me at least.

Anyway, there’s another point I kind of wanted to put to you: It’s this thing about right and wrong – a huge question I know. The thing that puzzles me a bit is the way so many people seem to assume their ideas are right and only theirs, in all circumstances. Of course they’re often someone else’s actual ideas they’re following, but that doesn’t stop them being convinced they’re right and, for some strange reason, they seem to assume that everyone else should think the same – because it’s right!

Take for instance… well, say the religion thing as an example. I know so many are sort of following the same god – you, of course, Big G – but in so many different ways. Jews, Moslems, Christians and many others. Then there’s Buddhism , Hinduism and the Chinese and Japanese gods (which are a total mystery to me) plus others. I mean they’re all convinced their way is the right one, but that can’t be so, can it? Can it?

You could argue, I suppose, that their beliefs are right for them, but… The thing is, the minute you start with that statement about something as fundamental as religion then where will it end? And there’s that word too – don’t get me started on fundamentalists – you know what I think of them! Mind you, I’ve always been a live and let live sort of guy. I mean I’ve always thought that what one person believes and cares about is fine for them and none of my business – as long as they leave me alone to be myself too.

But that’s the trouble, isn’t it? So many think that their way is the “right” way, whereas, as I see it, there’s no such thing as simple right and wrong – there’s things I wouldn’t do (as far as I can imagine), but then can any of us truly say that? I mean – never say never, eh G?

I mean, look here G… er, you still there? Well, anyway, there’s your ten commandments for a start and please don’t get all huffy and start striking me dead and stuff. Apart from the fact that I think it’s about time you updated the big ten, nothing is really that simple, is it? Well, I mean, let’s take the big, obvious one: I couldn’t agree more with the general principle of “Thou shalt not kill,” but you didn’t even stick to that one yourself, did you?

Now hang on a minute, there are lots of examples. For instance: never mind smiting the Philistines and so on, what about bringing fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorra just because they were a bit debauched? And then there’s even poor old Lot’s wife, the woman you turned into a pillar of salt just for taking a peek at the interesting stuff going on behind her? What about her, eh? You don’t think turning her into a pillar of salt kills a girl? Talking of which, if someone I cared about was in imminent physical danger from some guy, I’d try very hard to kill the bastard and no mistake! Trust me! And I wouldn’t feel the least bit guilty about it either. If some terrorist or other nut was about to kill me or mine, I’d go down fighting – believe me I would. If I’ve gotta go then I’ve gotta go, but I’d take him with me if I could. So don’t give me the, “These are the rules and you can never break them,” spiel – you just can’t say, “never,” about anything.

I know, I know: I’m getting a bit carried away here, aren’t I? But you in particular, in your infinite wisdom of course, must see this is all a bit subjective and us humans, being the devious lot we are, tend to use these black and white statements to prove any darned point we want and that’s usually to the detriment of someone else.

I think I most like the one you came up with in Matthew 7 (well, apparently you, but in the form of Jesus). If you recall, that said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” I know – it’s often quoted as, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” but it means the same thing and, in spite of all the gobbledegook that’s spouted surrounding it, it just means none of us should be worrying about other people’s shortcomings as we see them, because we’re not so goddam perfect ourselves and they might see us as just as flawed. So, who is any of us to say their opinion isn’t just as “right”, eh? Which brings us back to where we started.

Thanks G. Sorry I went on a bit, but you know me…

What Is It With These People?

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by AF

I’m not American, so I tend to say little about US politics unless I feel it affects the rest of us and UK politicians just make me feel ill, so I don’t mention them much either. But there are times when I wonder just what this planet is coming to.

It’s a bit like when bureaucrats (oh, how I loathe some of them) get all officious in what is clearly simply an attempt to increase their own sense of self importance and in fact justify their own existence. But in this instance a small but significant number of apparently small-minded US citizens are playing constitutional Russian Roulette with their whole country – and that could affect the rest of us.

It may well be that President Obama is playing an astute political game of chess over his healthcare proposals and that what he finally expects to get is not what’s most obviously on the table at the moment. Furthermore, I think his policies are misguided in as much as, desirable though his ideas are in theory, reality rarely matches anything close to theory when any service at all is run directly by government. Basically, healthcare almost everywhere in the industrialised world requires a huge rethink, because most of us simply can’t afford to support a system that offers the sort of healthcare that is daily becoming more sophisticated and vastly more expensive.

Nevertheless, I really can’t see why seasoned politicians and activists (mainly on the right of the Republican Party) would even consider, let alone condone, the evil “rent-a-mob” actions that are clearly taking place at meetings designed to explain the proposals to (and discuss them with) ordinary people across America. What is the point of spreading the lies, filth and half truths that these people are using to cloud the issues they so violently disagree with? What happened to reasoned argument and sensible discussion? Furthermore, I find it absolutely disgusting that TV channels can buy into this vile behaviour in the manner that Fox News apparently is according to so many rational sounding posts on the Internet. Using the power of TV to spread that sort of hatred is entirely anti-democratic and, to me, totally abhorrent.

I think the worst thing about it all, though, is how far these people plainly are removed from reality. I can understand that things that I don’t give damn about are vitally important to others – that’s their right and mine too and they have a democratic right to hold their views and express them.

But politicians buying into this crap? Now that’s something else entirely and it shows a really frightening lack of understanding and caring for the good of the country. Such people can only be seen as chasing fringe votes – the votes of the nasty, bigoted minority who would brook no opinion other than the disgustingly vile opinions that they hold and wish to see forced onto all of us by any means they can achieve. That way lies pure dictatorship!

The right wing of the Republican Party does this time and again. They hounded Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky to the tune of millions of public dollars spent on a matter that, though possibly bureaucratically important, was entirely trivial to most Americans – which was proved when they re-elected him and showed quite clearly that they didn’t actually give a sh*t about his love life, or the spiteful values of the nut-jobs! More importantly, it all wasted an enormous amount of valuable time for themselves, their party, the presidency, the legislature and it severely damaged US standing in the world along with the wellbeing of the country and its citizens. Ultimately, because of America’s size, that affected all of us.

And now we have the Obama birth certificate thing…

Do most normal Americans actually give a toss? NO! Absolutely NOT! The fact is that a majority of the electorate voted him, the man they saw and connected with, into office and whether some ancient bit of paper may or may not have made him strictly eligible in bureaucratic terms is almost totally irrelevant now. The people wanted him, not even necessarily because they seriously expected he would be the Superman they hoped, but simply because he was a better bet than the sh*t that the Republicans put up as an alternative!

Republicans (and at heart I probably am more or less Republican in my outlook) get real! Wake up and smell the coffee! Instead of bogging yourselves and everyone else down in this mire of nonsensical crap, you need to work on getting the right people and the right policies in place for the next election, right now (note what happened to the Tories in the UK and the misery that has created for the Brits). Get rid of the wing-nuts! America – heck, the world – cannot afford for you to suffer such abject failure and obscurity as you are heading for at this moment!

Just for once, think of the people – think of your country first! All of it!

An Era Sadly Missed

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2009 by AF

Alistair CookeFor no other reason really than the fact that Joanna Jenkins left me a comment saying that she missed Walter Cronkite (I guess for the integrity he and others of his era brought to news reporting), I was reminded of Alistair Cooke who was responsible for the longest running radio speech programme in the UK – probably anywhere.

His weekly “Letter from America” was a breath of fresh air for me, though I regret I didn’t always catch them in recent years. The first one was broadcast in 1946 and he presented them for 58 (yes, that’s fifty eight!) years – right up until 2004.

This is a terrific BBC archive of his more recent epistles, which from the beginning were always written and presented with such complete professionalism and frequently provided an interestingly different slant on some aspect of life in the US and were full of insight and always hugely informative for the British audience. You can read the transcripts, but if you have the right software (RealPlayer, I think) you can even listen to him and there was, to me, something quite special about his voice.

Alistair Cooke lived most of his life in America – New York in fact. Once a year, though, he would usually come to London for the Wimbledon tennis tournament and record his article whilst there. Like me, his love was apparently for the women’s game, which he saw as being full of far greater skill, rather than the often seemingly raw power of the men’s game. In spite of his relaxed tone, I got a sense that he was quite passionate about many things and he certainly loved America and the American people, eventually becoming a US citizen. Nevertheless, he was actually English, being born in Salford, Lancashire.

The most important thing about him for me, though, is what a fine example he was of something that I see as being almost as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth these days – a true gentleman from an era that is now long past and that I for one certainly mourn the loss of. It does still exist, but in ever smaller measure and I really regret the passing of Alistair Cooke and all his brand of journalism stood for and typified. There was always a feeling of calm integrity about his reporting and that in particular is what I (and I suspect Joanna Jenkins) grieve for above all else in these days of the fast buck and an attitude that seems to favour getting a story at almost any price.

It’s All There in Black and White.

Posted in Writing and Things Literary with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 28, 2009 by AF

The publishing industry, like many others at the moment, is currently in what I think can fairly be described as a somewhat parlous state. That is I suppose in large measure due to the economic circumstances of our time – i.e. yet another victim of the hugely greedy bankers (or do you spell that with a ‘w’). There are also, though, enormous changes taking place, not least because of the Internet, the effects of which have I suspect hardly even begun to be felt yet. 

I personally am at a stage in my life when two things seem apparent to me: firstly, a lot of the time we are seemingly daily bombarded with so much crisis and doom and gloom on TV and in the newspapers and elsewhere that, when I read a book or watch a TV show or film, I simply want to be entertained – to escape – to laugh, or even to cry more for joy than for sorrow and I think many people are suffering from this ‘doom overload’ that is afflicting me; secondly, publishers are looking for ever more certain winners in terms of profit – the fast buck that comes from either an already established author, or more frequently than ever, anything (who writes this stuff doesn’t matter a darn) that has a name tag to it that is instantly recognisable by the book buying public. Famous or infamous is irrelevant, the name is the thing. As Jennifer Astle has pointed out in this post…

“It seems as though another pre-packaged celebrity is going to stretch out her fifteen minutes of fame by penning a memoir about the trials and tribulations of being a 22 year old, heterosexual, rich, white, blonde, beauty pageant winner.  Move on Anne Frank, Carrie Prejean has a story to tell.” (full post here)

I’ve never thought that the publishing industry, or the media in general was as altruistically full of the integrity they would have us believe, but then which of us is? However, in these strained economic times, it does seem that they are becoming even less prepared to allow mere facts to get in the way of selling what they can, however they can. I can’t say I entirely blame them for giving the public what it wants, or attempting to, but it does raise some serious questions, as this superb post by successful female TV Producer Maria Lokken shows…

“There’s a controversy brewing over a new Young Adult book about to be released in the US entitled “Liar.” The book, written by Australian author Justine Larbalestier is about a black teenager named Micah. However, the cover art, beautiful as it is, is of a white girl with long straight hair.” (full post here)

To some extent, this situation may well say far more about the book buying public than the publishing industry itself and I suppose it’s also a very reasonable argument to say that, particularly when times are this financially tough, a corporation’s gotta do what a corporation’s gotta do. Nevertheless, it’s also an entirely valid question to ask just how far we are any of us entitled to go in pandering to another’s less than laudable emotions and attitudes, simply in order to make a sale.

All that said, the really sad thing is, as Maria points out, these marketing guys are probably just plain wrong and it would be a whole lot better for everyone if they simply took the trouble to get their facts right in the first place.

What’s THAT About?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2009 by AF

Do you come across stuff on TV, in the papers, in blogs, wherever, and think, “Oh hell! The lunatics have finally taken over the whole goddam asylum!”? Of course you do – you’re normal – that’s why I like you. I came across this gem today on a terrific and interesting blog called “The Fifty Factor” and had just such a moment. The item begins…

“It’s a slow news day when the front page of the Los Angeles Times Business Section has a big, full-color, “wiener warning” story! No, Loraina Babbit is not on the loose again, no the Playboy Mansion is not having another wild party and no, this is not about sex offenders living too close to neighborhood schools. It’s about hot dogs! Who knew wieners were breaking news and at the top of our “worry” list these days?!?”

Apparently, some vegan group in New Jersey is trying to get a health warning on wieners (hot dog sausages to you, if you’re a Brit) similar to the one the anti-smoking lobby forced the tobacco companies to put on cigarette packets (like we didn’t know smoking is bad for us … but what the heck, if we like it…)  What is that about?

Now, Joanna very rightly points out that there must be at least a million things that are far more important (well, the exaggeration is mine, naturally, but you get the point I’m sure), but I’m not actually so sure. Of course the vague, unproven, maybe, perhaps if you ate twenty packets a day for the next thirty years and managed not to die of obesity in the meantime, they might just encourage the cancer you were probably going to get anyway, is just plain stupid. But there is a serious point here and it’s very definitely not connected directly with wieners.

What the hell is the human race about with all this, warning on this, litigation over that, why didn’t the State protect me from my own stupidity there, thing? I reckon I’m normally a pretty easy going sort of guy – sure I get a bit annoyed about all sorts of things from time to time, like anyone else, yet I really do believe in “live and let live.” But there are three groups of people on this earth that drive me nuts and I would (I think) willingly trade just about anything with God (or whoever or whatever else might have the power) to have them wiped off the face of the planet – “jobs worth bureaucrats”, “do-gooders” and bloody “single issue activists” (and think about it, that includes terrorists and wiener hating vegans – both!).

Before anyone gets too excited, I have no issue whatsoever with vegans, vegetarians, meat lovers, pro-life, pro-choice, anti-smoking, smokers, gays, lesbians, Christians, Moslems, Jews, or any of the other millions of different groups that form to support what’s important to them. Those people add to the richness of humanity and life for us all. We may think they’re right or wrong, but that’s up to us just as their particular love, or beef (no pun intended) is up to them. But that’s the point! They are fully entitled to their opinion and it’s up to and important to them, not the rest of us!

Why the f**k do they think the rest of us should care and start to live their way? What is that all about? Are they that insecure? Who the hell do they think they are to tell me or anyone else how to live our lives?

So, all my three groups are probably actually three sides of the same coin: the “I know best and you must do it my way” people. Screw the lot of them, I say! That’s you screw them, not me – I don’t want to even get that close!