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One for the good guys…

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, bloggers are some of the nicest people I’ve met on the internet.
Whether it’s raising money for good causes, increasing awareness of social issues or simply providing help and advice to other bloggers and aspiring writers, there’s always someone who’s willing to lend a hand or act as a sounding board for new ideas.

Well I think it’s time we put some of that goodwill to good use.

The mass media, social media and the internet in general are so full of bad news, inequality and small mindedness these days, that sometimes it’s just good to read about something decent happening for the sake of decency itself, without any hidden agenda or need for personal gain being involved.

The amount of lazy, thoughtless racism and casual, allegedly comical bigotry that permeates the average antisocial network in the 21st century sometimes makes scrolling down a newsfeed an exercise in anger management and restraint, when it should be a reasonably innocent way of killing time and keeping in touch with friends.
And that’s without the videos of gratuitously violent executions, the inane rantings of Katy Hopkins or people trying to drink themselves to death.

Which brings me neatly to the subject of this post, the continued rise in the idiotic, dangerous and now officially deadly social media game, Neknomination, which has now claimed at least two lives as a result of “players” daring each other to indulge in massive alcohol intake in a short space of time.
Now however, the inventors of the game have begun furiously backpedaling in the face of the public backlash generated by the deaths, and by incidents involving kids unused to drinking becoming seriously ill after downing ridiculous quantities of alcohol.
In one case, a mother came home to find her nineteen year-old son unconscious on the sofa after having drunk three bottles of spirits and posted a photo of him covered in vomit on Facebook to teach him a lesson. He was lucky that he passed out whilst sitting up, had he been lying down he almost certainly would have died.

So the instigators of the craze have told their followers to switch instead to Donominate, the idea being that participants nominate each other to do “random acts of kindness” for strangers.

Now, call me cynical but I can’t picture the sort of bloke (unsurprisingly the players are almost all male) who’d drink a pint of whiskey with the contents of an ashtray tipped into it would suddenly take to carrying old ladies’ shopping or mowing lawns, just because some faceless internet goblin told him to.
I also have serious doubts about the sincerity of the goblins, thinking it rather more likely that they are attempting to dig themselves out of a hole of their own making, in the face of furious public opinion.

But let’s just for a moment be charitable and assume they are fully sincere and terribly contrite, the concept of doing small good deeds purely for the sake of it definitely has the makings of workable idea.
All it needs is a group of like-minded people who are prepared to put the idea into practice.

Do you see where I’m going with this…?

Yes that’s right, I am officially inaugurating a whole new branch of internet-philanthropy, Blognominate.

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No, wait, come back!
This doesn’t involve donating money, sponsoring an event or even sitting in bathfulls of baked beans, all it requires is that you, the enlightened bloggers of the web, perform some small act of kindness for another person, whether it be a complete stranger or a needy neighbour, in the hope that the resulting karmic harmonics go some way to redress the balance of goodness in the world.

I haven’t been able to raise a team for this year’s Exmoor Startrek charity night hike and we haven’t had a chance to do any daft dressing up at work recently, so for my part it seemed as good a time as any to try and engage in some goodwill recruitment on the factory floor this morning.
And I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the willingness of my colleagues to pledge their support to my plan, which is as follows;

I have asked my workmates for a list of candidates from which we can choose one or more people who we agree would benefit from a random act of kindness, and once we come up with a suggestion we shall organise a party of willing volunteers to somehow make their lives just that little bit easier or more cheerful.
It doesn’t have to be spectacular, it could be anything from tidying up a garden or doing a bit of decorating, to collecting shopping or clearing out a garage. Nothing that’s going to cost a fortune or require specialist equipment, just something to demonstrate that there are plenty of folks out there who are happy to make the world a better place by giving of themselves for no other reason than it feels good to do good.

Whatever we decide to do, you can be sure I shall document it with photos and possibly video in a future post.

So how about it, I’m nominating all of you, are you up for it?

Obviously you don’t have to be a blogger to take part, I’m sure anyone reading this has somebody they know that would appreciate a helping hand.
But if you have a Facebook account or any other social media profile, why not ask your friends to join you for the Blognominate challenge and help score one for the good guys.

 

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A long, strange and tenuous trip…

At last, we are finally reaching the end of the road to nowhere, so to speak.
After nearly a fortnight of bending connections until they almost snap, digging out nostalgia-packed video clips, classic albums, movies and TV series, there’s just seven more degrees of separation between now and the finish line.

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Whether or not you’ve sampled the delights I have provided for your festive delectation thus far, (and don’t forget you can always come back at a later date – The Tenuous Lynx is the gift that keeps on giving) I for one have really enjoyed this link marathon.
Not only has it given my brain a daily workout, but I’ve found all sorts of stuff I’d forgotten about or haven’t thought about for years, and that alone has made it worthwhile.
Call it self-indulgent, call it contrived, but if I have introduced just one person to something new, interesting, funny or thought-provoking then frankly, my job is done.

So without further ado, let us start at the beginning of the end.

The previous leg finished at The Unbelievable Truth, David Mitchell’s Radio 4 panel show, so;

Mr Mitchell appears on Channel 4’s 10 O’clock Live alongside comedic ranter extraordinaire, Charlie Brooker.
Here he is, holding forth on the state of British politics in 2013.

Also on the show is ex-Kenickie singer Lauren Laverne, who provided guest vocals for oddball dance boffins Mint Royale on this joyous slice of quirky pop – Don’t Falter.
Mint Royale were also responsible for remixing the vintage Gene Kelly number, Singing in the rain, something much of the UK were almost certainly not doing this year due to the extreme weather conditions and flooding we experienced.
Flood (aka Mark Ellis) is a prolific producer, writer and sound mixer who has worked with bands as diverse as New Order, Sigur Ros and The Killers, as well as mixing this year’s new Depeche Mode album.
And here it is in all it’s dark glory – Delta Machine.
Dave Gahan from Depeche Mode famously died (after a drug overdose) and was revived, much like this candidate for happy ending of the year 2013 – The dead woman who woke up after giving birth.
They both came Back to Life and back to reality like Soul 2 Soul did in their funked-up hit of the same name in 1990.

And for our very last link in the tenuous chain, we end with a couple of cartoons.
Everyone loves a cartoon at Christmas, am I right?

Soul Eater is a series of Japanese Manga comics which has been turned into amine cartoons, screened on TV in the West for the first time this year.
Coming up is the first episode, and then for the finale of Tenuous Tina and her Lynx of Love, it’s followed by a true classic of the manga oeuvre, the movie, Fist of the North Star.

All that remains is for me to say that I hope you’ve enjoyed tagging along on this oddity of odds and sods and to thank Ho once again for bringing the Tenuous Lynx to life with his exclusive artwork.

So after 13 posts and 177 links, I’m caging the Lynx and replacing Tina in her display case.

Until next time…

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And on the eighth day…

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Entering the second week in the company of Tenuous Tina and her Lynx of Love, I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever again have a thought which I don’t automatically try to connect to another by way of a tortuous route through cultural references trawled from my memory banks.

That being said, I’ve found some excellent stuff that I would not usually have come across in the normal course of writing a blog post, so I’m not complaining.

And today’s collection of multimedia nuggets are no exception; the full first episode of yet another of my TV highlights from 2013; the original ’80s pilot of one of my absolute, no competition, hands down, top TV shows of all time (no, not Twin Peaks this time); a hit single by the star of that same show AND two complete audio books by one of my favourite authors.

Don’t say I never do anything for you.

If I remember rightly, we ended yesterday on Boss, the drama in which Kelsey Grammer chews up the scenery as the mayor of Chicago.
So today;

A real life mayor who has been in the news of late and possibly the year’s most honest and frank politician, Toronto mayor Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack, although he did point out that he only did so whilst in an “alcoholic stupor”.
Well that’s okay then.
He was interviewed on television by Conrad Black, who was born in Canada but has a British peerage (he is officially Baron Black of Crossharbour)
Orphan Black was a top new science fiction series from this year and it was filmed in Canada but made by the very British BBC..
…and co-stars Matt Frewer, possibly best known as the man behind the glitching rubber mask of neurotic sci-fi cyber-clown Max Headroom and his real world alter-ego, Edison Carter.
Max Headroom provided the vocals for The Art of Noise’s hit single Paranomia and I think that’s the cue for a song.
Take it away Max…

Paranomia is a song about not being able to get to sleep, or insomnia, as the condition is known. Insomnia is also the title of a novel by Stephen King and you can listen to the whole audio book right here.

Bringing me to a much anticipated literary event, the launch of Dr Sleep, King’s long-awaited sequel to The Shining.

So at Christmas, when the turkey has been stripped to the bone and you can’t move from eating too many mince pies, settle into your favourite chair, plug in your headphones, close your eyes and listen to Will Patton read the latest chilling masterpiece from one of the world’s greatest writers.

You’re welcome.

Wow, there was some good stuff in there!
Make sure you check out the Max Headroom link to discover the origin of a cult TV comedy legend and I’ll see you tomorrow for more exhaustively researched randomness.

 

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Watching the defectives…

As Adam Pain’s Golden Face Palms are only two short weeks away, I have been trying to work out who I shall be accepting the award on behalf of.

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Not that there is any shortage of nominations you understand, but I did make a case for two individuals in particular and I’m intrigued as to which one gets the “honour” of a GFP being bestowed upon them. (I’m thinking that, considering the number of votes both of my nominations subsequently received via other people nominating them, whichever one I don’t pick up the award for won’t miss out anyway)

I feel sure the event is going to be a blast, pitched as it is as a fund raising piss-take of public numptiness.
But for every head-slapping story of inanity, insanity and ineptitude perpetrated by high profile d-list dullards, there are many other, equally deserving ordinary everyday morons members of the public who deserve a mention, locally, nationally and worldwide.

It could be something as simple as the bloke at work who, in an attempt to win favour with our new site manager, went to the trouble of opening a LinkedIn account so he could send the boss an invitation. When the top man accepted, the scoundrel proceeded to use the business networking site to grass up his workmates for talking, using their mobile phones when they should be working and spending too long in the toilet.

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Or it could be the Keystone Spooks story about the security services and jihadi wannabe, Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, accused of membership of Somali terrorist group al-Shabab and fitted with an electronic tag as part of the restrictive TPIM (Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures) imposed on him.
Not only did he manage to somehow remove his tracking tag, but he also outwitted his watchers by entering a mosque and, after changing into a full-length woman’s burka, walked straight out under their noses like something out of a satirical remake of Some Like it Hot.

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And while we’re on the topic of inappropriate disguises, how about this for a bit of jaw-dropping stupidity from across the pond.

The ironically named Jessica Black of Craigsville, Virginia thought it would be perfectly acceptable to continue the “family tradition” of dressing up her 7-year-old son, Jackson, in a Ku Klux Klan costume and sending him out Trick or Treating on Halloween, much to the indignation of her neighbours.

You can watch her blithely defending her decision to turn her offspring into a social pariah in this clip from the local news.

But without doubt the prize for the most staggering and serious mishandling of a situation has to go to the police force of West Auckland, New Zealand.

For 2 years Auckland police have known about a deeply unpleasant group of local teenage boys calling themselves the “Roast Busters” whose idea of a good time is getting local underage girls drunk, gang-raping them and then uploading the results to YouTube and Facebook in order to humiliate the girls into keeping quiet.
They even have supporters who set up a fan page to follow their conquests.

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A couple of Roasters. Calm down ladies, you’re not drunk enough.

As if this isn’t atrocious enough, the attitude of those tasked with protecting and serving the community is almost too callous to be believed.

Detective Inspector Bruce Scott is quoted as saying that;
“None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take that to a prosecution stage”

I’m sorry, the girls haven’t been brave enough? Are you fucking kidding me?

But I’m sure you came down on the little bastards like the proverbial ton of bricks didn’t you Inspector, cowardly rape victims notwithstanding?
This is what our law enforcing hero had to say on the matter;
“We’ve told them their behaviour is verging on criminal if not criminal, and suggested it cease”

Verging on criminal”?
Suggested it cease”?
Are you out of your tiny mind?

However, I expect the odious little antipodean cassanovas are suitably contrite since their horrible activities have been made public?

Hardly.

Here’s a quote from one of the apparently unfazed members of the gang, responding to accusations that he is, not to put too fine a point on it, a complete scumbag;
“You try and get with the amount of girls we do. This is hard, it’s a job, we don’t do this shit for pleasure.”

Ah bless, you poor thing. It must be awful for you, spending all your pocket money on cheap booze, only to have those ungrateful little trollops get all upset when they wake up with a hangover and no virginity or self respect.
You probably tell them you feel terrible and promise to make amends don’t you?

No?

No. What he actually likes to tell his distraught victims is;
”Go ahead, call the cops, they can’t un-rape you.”

Unbelievable.
Or is it?
Bearing in mind that the delightfully named Roast Busters are made up of, amongst others, the sons of policeman and in one case, the son of a Hollywood movie star, (Anthony Ray Parker, who played “Dozer” in The Matrix) it seems unlikely that they will be brought to justice anytime soon.
Although New Zealand’s 3 News has begun a crusade to publicise their activities, so they may yet have a case to answer.

Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to inaugurate a worldwide Golden Face Palms ceremony to highlight the sort of outrageous and incomprehensible behaviour this type of cretin engages in, if only to bring it to the attention of those with some power to deal with them, or at the very least to galvanise public opinion against them.

For now I think the inestimable Mr Pain has enough on his plate, but you never know, there’s always next year…

 
9 Comments

Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Awards, Blogging, News, Social comment, TV

 

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The Nobel and the not so noble…

I’ve now started this post four times.
Each time, the introduction was very sincere and thoughtfully articulated (you’ll have to take my word for it) and featured words like “freedom” and “oppression” and even “cohabitation”, but in the end what it boils down to is this;

Some people make me wish I could resign from the human race, whilst there are others whose modesty and integrity almost take my breath away.

And in the last few days, there have been a number of news stories that nicely illustrate this contrast in human nature.

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Picture the scene – a kindly looking, bespectacled elderly gentleman sits enjoying a relaxed pub lunch in Leith, Scotland.
Maybe he’s doing the Times crossword, maybe he’s reading the latest copy of New Scientist magazine, maybe he’s thinking about particle physics.

This last option is a distinct possibility, because the kindly old gent in question is none other than Professor Peter Higgs, eminent physicist and co-discoverer (with Belgian scientist, Francois Englert) of the Higgs Boson or “God particle”.

Now picture the Nobel prize committee, eager to bestow their award on one of the greatest scientific minds of our generation. Making increasingly frantic phone calls to try and locate the latest inductee into the world’s most exclusive club, they finally have to delay the presentation after realising the publicity-shy professor doesn’t own a mobile phone.

We return to Leith where professor Higgs, now strolling down the high street, is stopped by a passing ex-neighbour and is congratulated on his wonderful news.
“What news is that?” he asks politely.
At which point the neighbour tells him that he should probably ring the office.

Apparently he was originally going to spend the week in the Scottish Highlands to avoid any fuss people might make about one of the greatest scientific discoveries in recent years.
Such is the unassuming nature of someone who could quite rightly blow their own trumpet until the cows come home, a perfect example of good old British understatement.

Peter Higgs, Britain salutes you.
Whether you like it or not.

Isn’t it sad then, that in the same week we have to put up with the frankly vomit-inducing sight of the man who once flaunted a tattoo of a mosque with the word BOOM across it on television, seemingly having some kind of media-fuelled damascene moment and leaving the odious EDL (English Defence League) that he founded and led for four years to join an anti-extremist movement.

Yes, Tommy Robinson has hung up his swastika-spurred jackboots and seen the error of his ways.

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Nothing to do with the fact that he’s currently under investigation for obstructing the police during an anti-Islamic demonstration following the death of soldier Lee Rigby, or that by his own admission he’s getting ostracised by other parents at his childrens’ school.

No, it’s because he’s realised what a silly man he was at all those rallies and demos, threatening the Muslim community at large with retribution should any harm befall other British subjects and making himself look like an ill-informed dick on Newsnight.

I shan’t give him any more coverage than that, except to share the twitterati’s amusing take on the matter.

The third story that caught my attention was reported by a fellow blogger.
Sting of the Scorpion posted a piece the other day about everyone’s favorite hate-mongering cult-of-no-personality, the Westboro Baptist Church.

Unbelievably, this “church” enjoys tax-exemption status, despite the fact that a petition to classify them as a hate group (defined by the FBI as one whose “primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization.”) has many times more signatures than originally required.
It seems as if a certain Mr Obama is reluctant to recognise their bile-filled sermons and bigoted street corner abuse shouting sessions for the racist and homophobic rants they so obviously are.

Whether or not public opinion on this matter will reach a point at which it can no longer be ignored by those in charge remains to be seen, but as long as the notion of complete freedom of speech is abused by moronic minorities like this, it can only serve to cause more restrictions to be placed on those who have something genuinely worthwhile to say.

But in a country where the Southern Poverty Law Centre finds it necessary to publish a “hate map” of all the groups of extremists, organised by type of hatred (one category is simply called “general hate”) I don’t hold out much hope.

You can read the Scorpion Sting’s whole excellent article right here, and I shall just include this, my favourite moment of WBC bashing.

Here’s English scarecrow dandy, Russell Brand, giving them a friendly talking to.

Which brings me full circle, so to speak, as we return to the 2013 Nobel prizes and a story of incredible courage and dignity which proves that no matter how bad the cruelty and oppression inflicted, some people have a strength of character that is almost inconceivable to me.

Five years ago a BBC journalist was reporting from the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley in northern Pakistan.
This was the sort of area where it wasn’t uncommon to see the headless corpses of policemen hanging from lampposts in the town square, where all music and TV was banned and where any education for women was expressly forbidden.

As part of his story on the plight of women under the Taliban, the reporter tried to get female school teachers to write about their experiences but none were willing to go on record.
However, to his surprise an eleven year old girl named Malala Yousafzai wanted to write a diary of her life, would the BBC publish it?

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Over the next few weeks Malala passed hand-written notes to the journalist, which were posted on the BBC’s urdu language website under the anonymous title of Diary of a Pakistani school girl.
By the time she was 14 she was speaking out publicly about the rights of girls to get an education even though it was now common knowledge that she was being targeted by Taliban death squads.

If you don’t watch anything else today, watch as Malala leaves motor-mouthed US TV satirist Jon Stewart totally stunned by her response to hearing about the threats to her life…

Not long after learning of the death threats, she was travelling to school when she was ambushed by gunmen who shot her in the head.

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Miraculously, after leaving Pakistan for emergency surgery she survived and embarked on a campaign fighting for the right to an education for girls and women around the world.
And today she narrowly missed out on being the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel peace prize (pipped at the post by the Syrian chemical weapons inspectors).

Hearing Malala Yousafzai talk, you would think she was twice her 16 years, showing more poise and integrity than many of our allegedly civilised Western politicians.
I would highly recommend watching the full version of her interview with Jon Stewart via this link.

On balance, I think that if you judged the current state of human decency on just those four stories from the past week, we’d still just come out ahead.

 
 

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Sorted for pig wormer and plant food…

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Rave Dale. Original cartoon by Ho.

Back in the “Second Summer of Love” of 1988, a hypnotic, trancelike new sound, inspired by the motorik rhythms of ‘ 70s Krautrock pioneers like Kraftwerk, had begun to take hold of youth culture in the UK.
DJs had started playing records coming out of both the Detroit Techno and Chicago Acid House clubs in America and it wasn’t long before British clubs were holding House Music nights, combining the old school heavy pounding beats of the original acid and techno tracks with the smoother, more melodic dance music that was becoming popular in Europe.
Add to that the resurgence of interest in “new age” psychedelia and recreational drugs at the trippier end of the spectrum and the Rave Revolution had arrived.

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Some of these people may be “chemically assisted”

By the time the initial “scene” reached it’s sell-by date in the mid-nineties, even indie geek stalwarts Pulp were casting a laconic eye over proceedings, with this spot-on analysis of the stagnating subculture.

But just as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act didn’t eradicate the House Music movement by banning privately organised outdoor raves, the rise in use of newly popular drugs such as ecstasy, and old favourites like speed and acid, wouldn’t be stopped by the introduction of draconian new anti-drug laws.

Twenty years ago you could be reasonably sure that if you bought an ecstasy pill at a rave, then it probably had a substantial percentage of E and less in the way of X, Y and Z.
That is to say, the majority of the active ingredient was likely to be (deep breath) 3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine or, mercifully, MDMA for short, and if you were unlucky you might get a side order of baby laxative or baking powder.

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But nowadays, due partly to the demonisation of all drugs by some elements in government and the police, partly to lack of education and partly to the greed of  unscrupulous criminal gangs, the purity and safety of many recreational drugs is being compromised.

So much so that in Vienna, Austria, the Trans European Drug Information Project has set up CheckIt, a free drug analysis service for drug users who want to be sure they’re taking what they think they bought, so to speak.

Update – It seems I made a slight error with these details. Please see the comments section of this post for corrections. (Thanks to CheckIt for picking up the incorrect information)

Indeed, their findings have been somewhat startling.
From over 700 samples of cocaine tested, nearly 85% was shown to have been adulterated by up to half.
Ecstacy tablets frequently show high levels of Levamisole, a farm animal worming agent, which has also been found in cocaine in the US, causing some users’ flesh to rot.

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Other adulterants include Phenacetin, an analgesic with dangerous side-effects and PMA or “pink ecstasy” which has been linked to at least 20 deaths in the UK alone.

Such is the concern for the welfare of unsuspecting clubbers, that the UK now has Dancesafe, a similar organisation to CheckIt who, along with sites like ecstasydata and pillreports, (none of whom seem to have any truck with the space bar) provide user-friendly reviews, analysis and “consumer feedback” on the various street drugs available in the area.

And while programmes like needle exchanges have been around for some years, it has only been recently that the existence of DIY drug testing kits has become necessary.

Even so called “legal highs”, which were once confined to relatively harmless herbal recreational trips like Space Cadets (which I readily admit to having taken many years ago, and very nice they were too) have been replaced by the frankly terrifying Meow Meow (Mephedrone), the fiercely addictive African Khat and things that are so dodgy they have to be sold as “Plant fertilizer. Not fit for human consumption”

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This has once again led to calls for stricter laws to to ban all legal highs, to prevent manufacturers making minute alterations to recipes in order to circumvent the more vague current legislation.

At the same time, a prominent senior police chief has called for “an end to the war on drugs”, citing the rise of criminal gangs and proven effectiveness of addiction rehabilitation clinics to treat drug users.

Unfortunately, well meaning as this may be, it doesn’t deal with the issue of criminalising large numbers of perfectly normal young people who want to go out and have a good time with the intoxicant of their choice, without risking getting poisoned for their trouble.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that people will always take mind-altering substances, irrespective of laws prohibiting them from doing so.
The question is, will we ever come up with a way for society to accept that fact and deal with it accordingly, instead of forcing the issue back underground where the only people who benefit are those who have the least interest in the culture that spawned them?

 
12 Comments

Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Blogging, Music, Personal anecdote

 

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Going global…

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Hello everyone, this is just a little message to tell you about something I’m doing elsewhere on the Great Big Internet.

I have been invited by a couple of other blogs to write for them as a guest blogger, but I don’t intend to deprive you of whatever nonsense I happen to be rambling about at any given time (I am not taking direction from any other blogs, they essentially get what they’re given).

So I’ve set up a new page which will give you access to all these other posts, just like any other.

Click this link or just go to The guest list… heading at the top of the homepage at any time to find links to the new outposts of Diary of an Internet Nobody on the Wonderful World Wide Web.

You will all receive updates to the page by your normal notification system from now on, as I shall post reminders every time I publish an article on other blogs.

So pop on over there without delay, my first guest post is up now…

 
9 Comments

Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Blogging, Guest spots.

 

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