Category Archives: Politics

Feeding your celebrity obsession

There had never been a time when so little information has been provided to so many for so little purpose. The amount of the internet that has been cordoned off by the celebrity gossip section must be second only to porn at this stage. I am a hypocrite, obsessed as I am with sports which comes a close third. But sports to me seems like a more tangible idea that is worthy of obsession. Most people grow up playing at least some sports, whether they enjoy them or not is a different story. But how many people have any real brush with celebrity?

This is what I find baffling and I am not going to single out any of the most obvious targets because they have been well and truly covered. But how do people manage to sustain a very successful career based on nothing but bluster? I guess it is the perpetual motion machine that the more they are on the more they are fueled to go forwards. Also there must be some people who view them as aspirational figures whose career path they could follow.

The thing that I find sad about it is how much media attention it garners. To the point that it drowns out a whole array of endlessly interesting achievement and discovery. There are still many politicians working who genuinely care about the future of their country and the people inhabiting it. But what are the chances of them being able to promote a positive news story. They managed to create and implement a policy that could have a positive effect, they debated and discussed with opposition both inside and outside their parties and came to a consensus. The chances of something like this receiving widespread media coverage are somewhere below 1%. However catch them in a bed they are not supposed to be in and wall to wall, constantly updated, live from the scene action ensues. We can only blame ourselves though, whenever you look at the most read, most watch or most listened you can clearly see where the reality of our conscious lies. We want to blame our politicians for being obsessed with appearance but put yourself in their position. Any decision they make will be used a bat to beat them with in the future. We force them into being automatons without strong opinions because that is the politically prudent course to take. Did you meet with a fellow politician and have an interesting and engaging discussion? Did they clearly and concisely describe their point of view? During this debate did they change your opinion? Well in that case you are a flip flopper, why can you not hold a consistent point of view, how can the public trust you when you do not follow-up on your beliefs.

The double edged sword of celebrity is that we treat everyone as if they are equals, from scientists, politicians to trust fund dilitantes. They all receive equal airtime and varying scales of respect. But in news interviews now you find someone who clearly is constrained by what they can say as a politically prudent measure to safeguard their future versus someone who needs to be as controversial as possible to maintain their income. It is not a fair fight and this is the problem with our celebrity obsession. At the bottom end of the barrel are the people without any discernible talent who are willing to do anything, share anything just to maintain their fame. They are incapable of being embarrassed because everything that happens is a chance to share a story. Something most would find deeply personal and private becomes the ultimate opportunity for a personal story to cash in on. While we are watching most of these people start melding into one and we judge them in a similar manner, so the person who unabashedly shares all manner of information becomes the truth teller. While those with a more reasoned and measured response become seen as shady and cunning. It is not a great way to judge the people we want to run our countries because at the end of the day we will be left with only the terribly narcissistic and desperate fame hungry morons.

Science is just an opinion

So the title of this is deliberately meant to annoy you. I don’t believe it but I amĀ  shocked by the number of people who seem to hold this believe as a truth. Just because someone cannot understand the underlying principles behind a scientific theory means they dismiss it as false or just an opinion. Take climate change for example, this has become a political issue seen as an opinion based on which side of the political divide you fall on. If you take a few moments to really examine the science and more importantly the long list of scientific alumni gathered on one side of the debate you wonder how people can fall into the trap of making the issue political. Of course there are vested interests who want to ensure that they maintain peak profitability by denying any human link but they are a small minority. They spend enough to make them a majority opinion though and there we have the real problem with modern science. If you are rich enough then you can change reality. This is what is happening with scientific review at the moment though, there are sources who are clearly in the pay of whichever corporation drives a dump truck full of money to their door. That is terrible news for the layman and society in general.

Scientific fact should not become a political opinion and it is incredibly dangerous to obfuscate the truth so badly. It also makes it more and more difficult to clearly explain and demonstrate any new breakthrough to people with only a passing interest. Climate change is only the tip of the iceberg, if you will pardon the pun. This is something that garners headlines all around the world and something similar is fracking. This is quite clearly a dangerous method of extraction and causes untold damage, but holding that opinion makes me a liberal scaremonger. Similarly with genetically modified crops, do we really know the dangers of introducing a new type of crop into an eco system. Is it safe to have a crop that is engineered to only yield a crop once? Is there any guarantee that it cannot cross pollinate with any flora or fauna?

I love science, it is what has driven humanity forward throughout time from the very first person to discover that cracking flint causes a spark right up to the incredible images being sent back from the Hubble telescope or the Mars Rover. It still blows my mind that the Voyager has now passed beyond the edge of our solar system. Something created by our strange and angry species has sent us pictures back from the very edge of our domain. There is a robot on Mars sending us a vast array of fascinating data about the formation and history of that planet. We are an amazing species and science is one of the greatest areas of achievement for us. It really is what separates us from the animals, our ability to design and manufacture great buildings, terrible weapons, amazing space projects and revolutionary medicines. These people who have expanded our mind and furthered our knowledge of our universe deserve more respect than to be lumped in with a paid shill churning out whatever their paymaster wants to hear.

The 99%

If proof were ever needed that trickle down economics does not work it is the reports coming out that soon the richest 1% will have more than the 99%. It is sad that we are still using a man from the 18th Century as any kind of economic authority. For trickle down economics to work there needs to be a trickle. What we have instead is the priviledged few hoarding their wealth as if it were food in a post apocalyptic society. One of the worst proponents of modern day economics was Milton Friedman, a man whose theories on laissez faire economics was thoroughly embraced by the right wing in America and championed as a visionary deserving acclaim. The main problem with this is that we have to go even further back to find he origins in 17th Century France. A time when a completely agrarian economy was controlled by a monarch and and the aristocracy who knelt in his presence. It is one of the most libertarian views available and seems to be the way in which a lot of modern capitalist societies have chosen to govern. As has become increasingly evident though it does nothing to aid equality. When you let the market govern itself you let those in power and authority dictate where the world will head. Self interest wins of course and they choose to maintain the status quo. Or in most cases push policy to benefits them as much as possible.

What then is the answer to this? There is no simple one and none which are likely to happen. Why would the uber wealthy decide to have a sudden sense of altruism? They wont. As a Brit it is sad to see that we are following the Americans blindly down this path towards the widest income gaps. What is wrong with a little bit of socialism? Social justice? I am not a bleeding heart liberal and firmly believe that people should be working and paying their own way. But is it so wrong that people who work a full week in 1 job should be able to support themselves? The minimum wage should also be a living wage. That should not be a controversial statement. If you work 40 hours in a week, your pay at the end of that should be enough to cover all of your bills comfortably. Instead people have more than 1 job, work countless hours and still struggle to keep their head above water. This is the legacy that we are leaving for societies of the future, huge inequalities and a growing sense of hopelessness. You study, work and what are you hoping for. There are of course the lucky few who will break out and become successful, but for the majority that is not going to be the case. If you are wondering whether that is true then look at the statistics. Chances are you are in the 99%.

Which is not to say we should give up hope. Life is really not so bad for most of us. If you live in a functioning democracy you have access to a variety of services that work the way that they are supposed to. Mostly. The birds are singing and the whisky is flowing, life could be fairer though. Utopia is not attainable but a living wage shouldn’t be beyond reach should it?

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Greetings and salutations world, my name is SDZ Whitaker and after much toil and the occasional bead of sweat I have finally finished my first book. It is a Sci-Fi novel set 200 years in the future. It turns out aliens did land at Roswell in 1947 and that is where the 2147 title comes from. The world has broken up into 6 factions based mostly along geographic lines and the story revolves around the shadowy remnants of the CIA who are the only ones in contact with the alien race. That is all about to change though as Dr. Edgar Drake has finally cracked light speed travel and is in the process of building a ship. Once they get to the edge of the solar system they will find the aliens waiting for them. The question is after 200 years of waiting, what are their intentions?

The book is up on Amazon and if anyone could take the time to read it and review it then you would have the eternal gratitude of a man who wants nothing more than to give up the rat race to sit at home in his pants and write about day dreams. A worthy aspiration but in the mean time I suppose the grind of daily drudgery must continue. I will be updating this blog about anything and everything that pops into my mind from the struggles of being an anonymous author to what is annoying me about the world today. I am mildly obsessed with politics so I am sure reviews of the current state of affairs in whichever country pops into my head will feature fairly frequently.

In the meantime if you read this then please leave a comment, even if it is to question the small modicum of ability that I have. Anything and everything is welcome.