Archive for wonkotsane
Social media is awash with outrage (outrage I tell you!) that Cadbury has banned the word “Easter” in case it offends people from other religions. Easter is a Christian celebration so why, they ask, would people who weren’t Christians want to buy an Easter egg?
The war on Christianity continues apace they would have you believe.
Eostre (to give it it’s sort of proper name) or Ostera (to give it another one of its sort of proper names) is the pagan celebration of the coming of spring celebrated in northern Europe and the pagan goddess associated with the festival. The eggs and the easter bunny (actually a hare) are pagan fertility symbols associated with the goddess Eostre and the spring equinox.
The Roman church started celebrating the resurrection about 130 years after the death of Jesus and fixed the date according to the Jewish lunar calendar. Until the Roman church decided to mark the resurrection with a festival early Christians celebrated Passover as Christianity was still a Jewish sect at that time.
The actual date of the resurrection has been calculated to be 4th April AD33 (6th April in the Gregorian calendar). So this year the western Christian church are marking the resurrection a week early and the Orthodox Christians 4 weeks late.
So bearing all that in mind I’m not inclined to get worked up at Cadbury not putting the name of an ancient germanic spring equinox festival on a pagan fertility symbol that’s used by Christians for a Roman celebration of the death of a Jewish man 1,983 years ago.
I’m even less inclined to get worked up by it because the story isn’t true.
The word easter still appears on most Cadbury easter egg packaging and in abundance in their advertising. The story originated from a rival easter egg company, the Meaningful Chocolate Company which produces the Real Easter Egg. The Meaningful Chocolate Company is a Christian business and their eggs carry Christian messages, indoctrinating children through the medium of chocolate. Cadbury told an Irish newspaper that they don’t have a policy of removing the word Easter from their products but don’t feel the need to put the word Easter prominently on packaging because “it is very obvious through the packaging that it is an Easter egg”.
As an aside, there has been some consequential outrage (they like getting outraged, these Christians) at a bakery selling hot cross buns without crosses in case they offended muslims.
You will notice that the cross on the hot cross bun is an equilateral cross rather than a crucifix. You can see where this is going, can’t you? The equilateral cross is (you guessed it) a pagan symbol signifying that all things are equal. It is a convenient coincidence that Christians revere a cross associated with the death of their Messiah – especially so at Easter where they celebrate his death by crucifixion – and pagans also used a cross, albeit a different type of cross. It’s quite likely that the vaguely compatible symbology as well as the loosely similar dates informed the Roman church’s decision to hijack Eostre for their resurrection festival.
In any case, the story about the bakery selling hot cross buns without crosses so as not to offend muslims was a spoof published on the satirical Southend News Network website which was amusingly taken at face value by the EDL who shared their outrage (there is a never-ending supply of outrage amongst these Christians) on social media.
Why Christians would want to buy a pagan fertility symbol, let alone get upset about the lack of the name of the goddess Eostre on the packaging of chocolate eggs is a mystery. The hijacking of Eostre by Christians to celebrate the death of their Jewish Messiah is just the latest battle in the war against Paganism.
A year ago today …
MPs elected in Scotland have once again outvoted MPs elected in England on an English-only law.
The SNP joined Labour and some Tory rebels to oppose the liberalisation of Sunday trading laws in England and Wales that would have allowed local councils in England decide whether there was enough local demand to allow a shop to open longer on Sundays. Without the 51 SNP MPs, one UUP, seven DUP and three SDLP MPs voting down the law it would have passed with a majority of 31.
In Scotland they don’t have restrictions on Sunday trading and shops routinely stay open all hours where the local economy supports it. A previous attempt to abolish the restrictions on Sunday trading in England in 2006 was blocked by Alistair Darling, then MP for Edinburgh South West and British Minister for Trade & Industry.
The ridiculous and fundamentally flawed convention of English Votes on English Laws that was recently introduced into the British Parliament has failed its first test by failing to prevent MPs elected in Scotland claiming voting rights for something that clearly doesn’t affect Scotland. The SNP’s claim that not having premium wages for working on Sunday enshrined in legislation in England might bring about the end of the common practice of paying overtime to Scots working on a Sunday in Scotland thus giving them the right to vote on it is frankly pathetic and exposes the inherent weakness of English Votes on English Laws and highlights yet again the need for a devolved English government.
The British government’s racist tuition fees imposed on English university students have encouraged a quarter of a million students to sign up as escorts and prostitute themselves.
The company behind the Seeking Arrangement service claims to now have almost 250k UK students on its books and is putting it down to the high cost of renting and crippling student debts. Seeking Arrangement is an escort service that introduces young female students to wealthy older men to parade around as trophies and sometimes for sex.
So not only are the British saddling English students with tens of thousands of pounds of debts, they’ve pushed thousands of them into prostitution to pay them off.
2015 turned out to be a pretty shitty year but friends and family have rallied round to support us. Let’s hope 2016 is a better year than 2015!
The British government will debate an English national anthem on 13th January when Labour MP for Chesterfield, Toby Perkins, will introduce hs English National Anthem Bill.
Lib Dem MP, Greg Mulholland, has tried to get an English national anthem before but the British are keen to keep England using the British national anthem otherwise they’ll never hear it.
It would be great to ditch God Save the Queen for England but I won’t hold my breath.
The Saturnalia tree is up, there’s a pagan holly and ivy wreath on the door and the kids are playing with their winter solstice presents. That can only mean one thing: it’s Zeusmas! Thank the FSM Hanukkah was early this year because it’s going to be a nightmare next year when it clashes with Kwanzaa on the 26th.
And this, my friends, is why people in secular countries all over the world say happy holidays. They’re not taking the Christ out of Christmas, they’re putting the Yule back into Yuletide, the Saturn back into Saturnalia, winter back into the solstice, the hog into Hogswatch and the FSM into ChriFSMas. There’s no war on Christmas, just an appreciation of the fact that most people don’t believe in the religion that claims the exclusive rights to the month of December to celebrate the birth of one of its prophets (who was actually born in spring but had the date moved to help Christianise the Roman Empire) and their insistence that the winter solstice be dedicated to their chosen religion.
Now I’ve got that off my chest, I hope you have a happy whatever festival you choose to celebrate and in honour of the pagan roots of the holidays get drunk, have fun and be as debauched as your significant other/chance festive acquaintance allows you. Having a good time and making your loved ones happy is more important than arguing about whose sky fairy has the biggest tonker, especially when we all know the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s noodly appendages are way bigger than Jehovah’s old fella and He’s got hundreds of them!
With irritating frequency people post crap on Facebook about Article 61 of Magna Carta and “lawful rebellion”, claiming to be able to legally avoid paying taxes and operate outside the law as long as they write to the Queen to pledge their allegiance and tell her they’re lawfully rebelling against the government.
The fundamental flaw in this lawful rebellion nonsense isn’t that the fascist state will deny people their constitutional right to rebel it’s that such a right doesn’t exist and hasn’t existed since 1297, if ever.
To understand why this lawful rebellion rubbish is … well, rubbish … you need some background. There have been four different versions of Magna Carta, each one being replaced by the next until the 1225 version was reaffirmed by decree of Edward I. There was an Article 61 in the original version of Magna Carta that was issued in 1215 but by the time Magna Carta was reissued in 1216 Article 61 had been removed. It lasted less than 12 months. Magna Carta didn’t actually end up on the statute roll until it was reaffirmed in 1297.
The lawful rebellion cranks come up with a variety of reasons why Article 61 should still be in force but they’re nonsense. A common claim is that parliament can’t repeal Magna Carta because it’s part of the Common Law. Parliament is sovereign, it can and does repeal or amend whatever it chooses whether it’s part of the Common Law or not. The universal right to trial by jury has been abolished and Habeas Corpus has been suspended by Act of Parliament several times. Whether it is considered to be part of the Common Law or not, Magna Carta became a statute in 1297 when it was entered onto the statute roll.
Another one is that Magna Carta is a treaty so it can’t be repealed by parliament. Magna Carta isn’t a treaty which is a contract entered into by sovereign states or international organisations. It was a contract under common law between the King and a group of barons signed at the point of sword. If it was a treaty – which it isn’t – then it was signed under duress and would be invalid under Articles 51 and 52 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Magna Carta is a statute and parliament has jurisdiction over it in the same way it has jurisdiction over Acts of the English, Scottish and (pre-Republic) Irish Parliaments, Acts of the Rump Parliament and other proclamations and statutes from before and after the civil war.
The oldest statute still on the books – the Distress Act 1267 (otherwise known as the Statute of Marlborough) – predates the British Parliament and the Rump Parliament of Cromwell’s republic yet it is still in force. It doesn’t matter whether the law was made by a King, Lord Protector, English Parliament, Scottish Parliament, Irish Parliament or British Parliament – the law is the law and parliament has jurisdiction over all laws.
To put it quite simply, there is no Article 61 of Magna Carta and rebellion is unlawful. There is no smoking constitutional gun that means you don’t have to pay taxes or fines or obey the law. There is, in fact, only one way to lawfully rebel and that is to be on the winning side so you’re the one who decides what is and isn’t lawful.
Whether you choose to believe me on this is your choice. I have nothing to gain from telling the truth – it’s not like I’m asking for donations to spread the word after all. You can carry on reading the rubbish these cranks put on their websites, try your hand at tax evasion and end up in court where you’ll try refusing to stand for the magistrate to deny him his authority because the same websites tell you that the courts are operating under admiralty law and they only have jurisdiction if you stand up for them and end up getting fined anyway because none of this stuff works. But for the love of FSM, please stop posting this crap on Facebook, starting petitions and sending round robin emails trying to find more gullible people to keep it all going!
The rugby world cup has started so it’s time for the obligatory whinge about the English RFU using the British national anthem to represent England.
You wouldn’t bring a British flag to an England match so why would you sing the British national anthem?
I’m no stranger to being censored on the Guardian’s ironically named Comment Is Free but usually it’s for such heretical thinking as disagreeing with something they say or correcting one of their many, many mistakes, not for criticising an arts critic.
Guardian arts critic, Jonathan Jones, has written what I will generously call a worthless piece of substandard literary diarrhoea describing Sir Terry Pratchett as a “mediocre” writer publishing “ordinary potboilers”. He bases this opinion on never having read any of Terry Pratchett’s books and never intending to read any of them even if he lived to be a million years old.
Let’s just examine the facts shall we? Prior to the release of his final book, Shepherds Crown, this week Terry Pratchett had sold over 85m books in 37 different languages. He was given the OBE for services to literature in 1998 and knighted in 2009 for the same. He was the number one best selling fantasy/sci fi writer in the 1990s, won a huge list of awards, was awarded 10 honorary doctorates, was made an adjunct professor of Trinity College Dublin and big budget films were made out of four of his Discworld novels. The plays of his books have been performed the world over and a large number of his books have been recorded for radio and broadcast around the world. The books have spawned calendars, diaries, figurines, board games, computer games and other merchandise. Sir Terry Pratchett had a net worth of £42m according to the 2012 Sunday Times Rich List. He has been credited with inadvertently inventing the genre of comic fantasy. When he died, people around the world mourned his death and inspired by a quote from one of his books, Going Postal – “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken” – thousands of websites and internet servers gained a “GNU Terry Pratchett” header in the ultimate geek tribute. Even the Guardian website did it.
Jonathan Jones has written two books. You won’t have heard of them and you won’t have read them. He’s an art critic for the morally and financially bankrupt Guardian newspaper. He presented an TV series on art for BBC2 and although he has presented two prestigious arts awards, he has never won any award himself.
Jones isn’t even a has-been, he’s a never-was. He’s a literary snob exploiting the release of the last ever Discworld novel to gain some notoriety. He says that he’s never read a Pratchett book and that they’re so far down his list of books to read that he “would have to live a million years before getting round to them”. He says that he once flicked through a Discworld book in a bookshop “but his prose seemed very ordinary”. Ordinary!
Because he’s never read the Discworld novels he hasn’t watched the characters evolve over three or four decades until you know them so well that reading the next book is like catching up with old friends. He hasn’t experienced the hairs on the back of his neck prickling at spotting a strand of continuity in the latest Discworld novel that goes back 30 years or the pleasure in reading a book for the tenth time and still spotting something that you didn’t notice the first nine times. He can’t empathise with Commander Vimes’ struggle to reconcile his working class, republican man on the street background with marrying into the aristocracy and becoming a Duke or Granny Weatherwax’s constant battle to contain the “black” in her, knowing that if she stops fighting it a lot of people will get hurt (or have their heads messed with so they believe they’re frogs in a human body which is a lot worse then being turned into an actual frog). He won’t know that that Sir Terry (or Pterry as he’s known to fans) tackled such complex subjects as poverty, equality, bigotry and religious extremism whilst making people laugh. If that isn’t -ing genius then I don’t know what is.
I picked up my copy of the Shepherds Crown on Saturday (well, two copies actually – one to read and a slipcase edition to keep) but I haven’t started it yet. I’m reading another book at the moment that my wife ordered me to read and I don’t like leaving a book half read. I’m sure Pterry would have understood. I’m in no hurry to get through the Shepherds Crown because it means I’m at the end of the Discworld series. Once I’ve read it, the Discworld will be frozen in time and that saddens me. Throughout all the trials and tribulations of trying to survive as a hormonal teenager, through the traumatic loss of close family members, meeting my wife and having a family, through depression and dark times and the best days of my life Terry Pratchett has been there for me, providing a means of escape from reality and even a moral compass at times. We could all benefit from being a bit more Terry. For me he was the greatest author that humanity has produced and he will be without equal, at least in my lifetime. And Jonathan Jones? How many people he’s never even met will still be mourning his passing 6 months after he’s gone?
If you are thinking of commenting on Jonathan Jones’ article then just these three words will suffice …
GNU Terry Pratchett
We went to Broseley tonight to visit my parents. The storm hit just as we pulled up at the top of the high street to get food!
Matt Hancock, the British Paymaster General, wants to put unemployed young English people through a three week intensive programme he describes as a “boot camp” at job centres or they will lose their benefits.
The “boot camp” would be mandatory for all 18-21 year olds in England and would run to 71 hours of training on interviews and job searching.
The principal behind this – that people on benefits should be doing everything possible to find a job and not be stuck at home in front of the telly watching Jeremy Kyle – is a sound one but as usual, the British government have taken a good idea and come up with a crap implementation.
Only English youngsters would have to go to this “boot camp” in exchange for their benefits – unemployed Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish people will continue to get their benefits without having to attend a “boot camp” and English people moving over the border will be similarly exempt. What happens with Scottish and Welsh youngsters who are already claiming unemployment benefits and move to England will no doubt be as vague and unenforceable as the requirement that 16-18 year olds in England be in formal education which isn’t enforced against Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish youngsters who move here. And why is it only young people being targeted? It’s harder for a young person with little or no work experience to get a job than an adult who has a proven record and experience that you can’t teach in a classroom yet it is young people who are targeted by these schemes with the implication being that they are just workshy.
Not only is this scheme racist but it is ageist as well.
Everyone claiming unemployment benefits, regardless of their age, should be required to spend the working day looking for work, doing community service and getting an education and they should be supervised doing so. In some parts of the country and for some sections of society it’s not easy to get a job but that doesn’t mean that their day shouldn’t be spent productively. Councils are cutting back on public services to save money while the taxpayer is spending billions paying people not to work. If all unemployed people were carrying out community service we wouldn’t have filthy streets, fly tipping and graffiti everywhere and councils saying they can’t provide services because they can’t afford them.
There is a workforce of 1.85m people currently being paid not to work by those who are working. Let’s not stigmatise young people or get hung up on the irrelevant question of why people are out of work and just get them doing something useful for their local community until they find a job. And that applies to the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish as well – the English are paying for their benefits so why shouldn’t we attach some conditions?
I’ve been a Three customer now for over five years, having switched from Orange when they couldn’t be bothered to fix their abysmal network and repeatedly lied about the causes of their problems.
Over the past five years I’ve been a loyal and extremely satisfied customer. Not just a loyal customer, in fact, but an evangelist who has brought them lots of new business. Unlimited data, unlimited tethering, no extra charge for 4G and customer support people who don’t try and blame every problem on your phone, no matter how nonsensical that may be. What’s not to like?
Well, things have changed and not for the better. Unlimited tethering is a thing of the past and the One Plan that brought it has been withdrawn despite Three confirming on Twitter and by email that existing customers would keep it as long as they didn’t upgrade or change their account. The current price plans that have replaced it are quite inferior by comparison and more expensive too.
Currently I have the sim only One Plan. It gives me 2,000 minutes, 5,000 texts, 5,000 minutes of 3 to 3 calls, unlimited data and unlimited tethering for £19 per month. I’ve happily been paying my £19 for a year and a half but now I’ve got to change my price plan, put up my bill and tie myself into another 12 month contract to get less than what I get now. Obviously I don’t want to do this. The closest price plan to the one I have now is £27 per month – an increase of £8 per month, or £96 per year – and for that I can have unlimited data and calls and a relatively miserly 4GB of tethering.
Now, most months I can easily get by with 4GB of tethering but on occasion it’s nowhere near enough. This month, for instance, we’ve spent a week on a caravan site in Wales with no Wi-Fi so everyone used my phone’s Wi-Fi hotspot. I’ve used nearly 10GB of tethering already this month which would have added an extra £30 onto my bill at the standard charge of £5 per GB over the 4GB allowance. Like most kids nowadays, mine spend their lives on YouTube and online gaming and for my autistic son, not being able to get on the internet isn’t just an inconvenience when he’s bored, it’s the end of the world.
I’ve made a couple of calls to Three to voice my disappointment and see what options I have but nobody’s convinced me yet . I can get 8GB of tethering but only if I upgrade with a handset, putting my bills up even more and tying myself into a two year contract. I don’t need a new phone – I’ve only had my Galaxy S5 for about 6 months – but I looked on the website anyway to see if there was anything worth having and I was shocked at the prices. To get a Galaxy S6 (the model that’s replaced my S5) I’d have to pay £50 per month. To get the phone I currently have – last year’s flagship model – would cost me £44 per month. This values the Samsung Galaxy S5 at £408 when you can buy the phone from Samsung directly for £329. These are just ridiculous prices and makes staying sim only the only cost effective option with a price hike of £8 per month for less than what I’m getting now. You can see why I’m not happy.
Three’s price plans cost much the same as the other networks now and the only thing that really sets Three apart from the others is the unlimited data and customer services which, if you can demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about, don’t treat you like an idiot and are quite open with you about the issues you’re having even if that means they admitting blame. Anyone who’s tried convincing EE that a problem that’s affecting lots of people in the same area that you don’t need to factory reset your phone to fix it will appreciate what a big thing this is. That counts for a lot and it’s that more than anything – more than the unlimited data which I absolutely make use of on a monthly basis – that makes me reluctant to move elsewhere.
I’m torn really on what to do. I can get 4G most places I go but not at home and nobody will tell me the RFS date for 4G on my home mast. That’s irritating when it’s available in the next street but HSDPA+ is fast so it’s not a deal breaker just yet. I dislike EE because they have a no blame culture – as in, they are never to blame. O2 and Vodafone coverage round here is pretty poor and the least said about O2’s network the better. There is nothing that makes me think that any other network will give me a service that is better than what I get from Three, or even one that is just as good, but I do feel like I’ve been let down by Three who are rewarding my loyalty (I have another three contracts and a payg with them – for my family of course, I’m not a drug dealer) with contempt. I appreciate that I’m only one customer and I only have five connections out of 8m+ subscriptions but I still feel that I should be treated better. I don’t want the world, I just want the old Three back.
What is so surprising about the revelation that fingerprint scanners on Android devices are vulnerable to hackers is that people are surprised about it.
The irreconcilable flaws in using biometrics were exposed years ago when Tony Blair’s despotic regime was trying to introduce biometric ID cards and more recently in the context of mobile devices, by how unbelievably easy it was to lift a fingerprint off the scanner of an iPhone which could be used over and over again.
You see, the main problem with using fingerprints is that you have to physically touch the scanner glass and that leaves a residue that can be lifted using a piece of plastic film and turned into as many copies of your fingerprint as you want. Whilst the physical method of cloning fingerprints is the simplest it can’t really be done on an industrial scale so the real vulnerability is a man in the middle attack which intercepts the digital encoding of your fingerprint and provides that to the system comparing it to the one on file rather than a physical scan of a finger.
As mobster John Dillinger found out over 80 years ago, you can’t obliterate or alter your fingerprints and the only way to stop them growing back as your skin heals is to graft skin from elsewhere on your body. If hackers manage to get a digital copy of your fingerprint, what are you going to do? Or your iris scans or DNA? You can’t change your biometric data so once it’s compromised it’s personally compromised.
My current mobile phone (Samsung Galaxy S5) is listed amongst the devices that had a vulnerability with its fingerprint scanner. It’s been patched apparently but that was never a problem for me because I refused to set up the fingerprint scanner. I pledged to refuse to hand over my biometrics to the British government back in 2006 so why would I hand them over to the company that makes my mobile phone, Google and anyone else who has access to the fingerprint database?
The best way to keep your biometrics safe is not to give them away in the first place.