Anatomy of a beheading video.

The recent video reported as showing the beheading of James Foley has caused controversy and outrage since its release last week. On the one hand it shows a level of media savvy no other Middle Eastern terror group has managed to achieve before in terms of addressing a Western audience but on the other hand it’s not a beheading video. The purpose of this article isn’t to go too deeply into the mechanics of beheading and nor am I going to start regaling you with conspiracy theories as to what might have been because they are just noise. Let’s stick to what we have clearly seen.

Before we get to the video itself we need to look at the reactions from our politicians and – more importantly – our media. Firstly the video itself is often referred to as  “the beheading video” despite the fact the video at no point actually shows any form of beheading. On the news it was also frequently reported that the video was too graphic to broadcast, too violent yet the video itself contains only one graphic still image at the very end. This image is indeed graphic, it shows James Foley’s severed head resting on his back and you can understand why it’s not suitable for mainstream media but given our news reports have been full of images and video showing – for example – horribly mutilated children from the Israel / Gaza conflict you have to wonder which parts of the video were actually “too graphic”.

I’d seen these reports over and over on the television and I have no doubt whatsoever it’s this description which drove so many people to take a look from themselves. No matter how people like to portray their sensitivities many do have a streak of morbid interest. Whatever the reasons for viewing, and there are many, people were titillated by the media into taking a look for themselves. Along with this the leaders of both the UK and the US returned from their holidays to voice their outrage before returning to whatever it was they were doing on their jollies. It’s worth pointing out that, at this time, I’ve already heard of certain websites who have had their sites taken offline while they are being encouraged to remove the video despite having far, far stronger content available. I suppose that’s a case of the authorities wanting to be seen to be pro-active. This has been predominately in Europe as far as I am aware.

The police in the UK hinted that it may be an offence to even view the video (it isn’t) and this was run with by various outlets online to further stir up the levels of interest and fear. Yet all along there was nothing here in terms of graphic content which was shocking. Since the outbreak of the war in Syria videos have emerged of both sides carrying out horrific acts and quite literally since the inception of IS they have been releasing documented evidence of the most awful slaughters yet nobody really seemed to care in the wider world, we only started paying attention when the mainstream media decided to cover the fate of the Yazidi people. The ‘world’ still didn’t get too worked up until a certain video emerged, a video in which nobody was actually killed.

Now to the video itself. I’m going to work from the premise that James Foley was indeed murdered. The image at the end shows no artefacts I can see which would indicate it was faked and until those far more experienced than myself can prove otherwise it’s reasonable to assume he is no longer alive. As I said at the top of the article, I want to deal with what we can see not what people suspect because those suspicions often bear ever more ludicrous fruit. Let’s break down some of the anomalies present in this video alongside some of the more common questions which have lead to conspiracies flying around.

James Foley seems remarkably calm in the video.

He does seem remarkably calm for a man about to be killed doesn’t he? I wouldn’t say relaxed, there are clear signs of stress and discomfort during his speech but there’s little in the way of terror. Some are claiming it’s because he’s an actor but I would suggest an actor would insert more terror into that situation. I believe a more likely explanation is that he, along with other hostages held with him, was subject to several mock executions. It would be very interesting to hear how these mock executions were carried out but it’s hardly unreasonable to assume that after a few of these your mental condition could very possibly collapse into one of miserable acceptance. Each time you think it could be the time it happens but each time it doesn’t your mind must convince you the next time won’t be either. Many have commented on how victims of beheadings rarely struggle, try to escape, or simply make it difficult. I believe this has a lot to do with a collapsing mental state and a belief that ‘this won’t happen to me’.

There is another video from a decade ago we can draw parallels with and that is the video of Ken Bigley. In his execution video he was reasonably calm and the content of the speech was a lot more ‘positive’ than that of James Foley. Mr Bigley sounded like there was still a possibility of his life being prolonged. He’d already given more than one speech kneeling in front of his captors, perhaps he thought this would be another time that he would give a speech before being returned to confinement. Perhaps it was the same for Mr Foley. There is another similarity with the Ken Bigley video but we will come to that later.

The Knife in “Jihaddi John’s” hand didn’t match the knife in the image at the end of the video.

This much appears to be true from what I can see. There have been beheading videos before where one man has started the execution but another has finished it due to the first man being incapable. Is that the case here? I personally don’t believe so but it’s important to consider all possibilities which have been previously evidenced rather than leaping to the first conclusion you come up with.

Why would they cut away rather than show the full execution?

Many have claimed this is without precedent and this is not the case. There have been several ‘lower profile’ beheadings in recent years which haven’t shown the full act although almost all show the beginning of the act and even there you can see a marked difference. In the Foley video the victim appears to have his neck sawn at around nine or ten times (I haven’t slowed the video down to count) without any obvious signs of damage. This is completely inconclusive with any other video of its kind. The only higher profile video which didn’t show the act that I can recall was, once again, the Bigley video. In that they cut away as Bigley was rolled onto his side. At the time this lead to people theorising they might have killed him in some other manner. I couldn’t say, I wasn’t there, but you have to keep in mind one important fact which has been documented, quite often the people carrying out these beheadings get it wrong. Horribly so. But would they show it anyway? I suppose that would depend on the intention of the videos.

There is one final thing which I want to address which does cast a great deal of doubt that the video we saw was actually the video of James Foley’s execution. Only one of his captors appeared in the video. In every video shown of this type there is never a single murderer. There are normally at least two more people with them (often more) and they often have to help subdue the victim who, naturally enough, often tends to struggle once the murder has begun. In this video we see one reasonably calm victim and one of his captors. Nobody else is in evidence. In all of the videos I have been unfortunate to have watched I have never seen only one assailant.

Does this mean it’s all a fake? Not really, no. To my mind it seems very much as if they released a video of a mock execution. This would explain the relative calmness of the victim who was probably mentally brutalised enough at that point to be pliable. It would also explain the single captor being in the video as well. There is one important thing though, one massively important thing. If you accept that James Foley is indeed dead, and there is no reason not to, the validity of the video is pointless next to the fact a man is dead. Murdered for a religious ideology.

So what conclusions can we draw before falling down the conspiracy rabbit hole of CIA dirty tricks and a way of getting boots on the ground in Syria? What I can conclude is that IS are incredibly media savvy. They’ve released a relatively calm video which has inflamed the west. Sensational headlines screaming about something nobody saw happen. Sensational wording describing events nobody saw happen (unless you were there or a part of the company responsible for the editing and distribution of said video I suppose). They’re already playing the world’s media (social and mainstream) like a violin and that’s something I don’t want any part in. I’ve no doubt that their current stockpiling of hostages might well lead to far more graphic examples of execution but I feel they’ll still all be wrapped in this cynical, slick packaging and our media will eat it up like sweeties whilst all the while practically ignoring the many other atrocities being carried out by IS.

It would be remiss to not point out that given that James Foley was most likely murdered it doesn’t actually matter that the assailant in the video might not have carried out the murder himself. He’s still guilty and if the authorities are correct in identifying him then when he is caught he has earned whatever comes his way be it a trial and imprisonment or an undramatic ending via a bullet somewhere in the Syrian / Iraqi wilderness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media bias, media manipulation, and a small war in Israel.

I was going to submit a far longer piece on the Israel / Gaza conflict but in the end chose against it. I’ve been a little quiet on this blog for a while which has in part been down to my refusal to allow anything to cut into my family time, in part down to work commitments, and in part due to being a little burned out on this whole issue. Yes, I know there are plenty of other things to write about but this one nags at me like a rotten tooth. Not so much the conflict itself, that’ s an inevitable and depressingly regular occurrence. Instead it’s the reaction this time around and the way it has been used that nags almost constantly.

Let’s take a very simple statement of what’s happening.

Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at Israel in retaliation for Israel’s ongoing blockade of Gaza. In response Israel started shelling rocket launch sites and attempting to dismantle the tunnel network which leads out of Gaza into Israel. As a result of these actions many Palestinian civilians have died.

No history, no right or wrong, nothing but exactly what’s happening. If you think you can dispute the above statement then you’re misleading yourself and looking to gild the lilly in order to justify the actions of either side. As I have said, I don’t want to touch the rights and wrongs of it just the here and now.

The press response to this has been interesting to say the least. I’ve been informed on many occasions that the press is provably pro-Israel. Apparently it can be easily proven. Nobody shows me how easily apart from a bit of research into talking heads but I digress. I’ll take their word for it as it matters not. Thing is, I’m not really seeing it this time no matter how much a variety of light entertainment talking heads agree. In fact, I’m seeing the opposite for the most part as I believe Hamas are playing a very clever media campaign this time around. You can accuse me of being a “Zionist” or “Pro-Israel” at this point if you like, we can talk about the West Bank another time and the other side will get a chance to tell me I’m anti-Israel.

No reporter has so far mentioned the fact they are under strict reporting restrictions by Hamas. Now, you might think “So what?” but it’s actually incredibly important. in every previous situation I can recall if there were restrictions the reporter would mention them thus informing the people watching that they might not be getting a terribly balanced view of how things are on the ground. Instead we have a stream of images showing injured or dead women and children – rarely men you might notice – and reports of civilian death tolls but never how many Hamas fighters might have been killed. There is also only at best a cursory mention of rockets being launched and almost none at all of tunnels being used. We’re shown an indiscriminate slaughter of Palestinians by Israelis. This plays directly into the following:

The Israelis are guilty of genocide. They are indiscriminately murdering Palestinians in a disproportionate response to rockets which are almost harmless.

The Israelis are shelling residential areas in revenge.

Neither of those statements is true (I know, I know it isn’t hearts and flowers in Gaza. Believe me I know, but have a little patience). However the media we are being fed directly plays into that. Do I believe the media is purposely playing into the hands of Hamas? No, but only because I don’t want to think that. I think it’s more of an effort to feed the British hobby of supporting an underdog. Well, supporting an underdog if we’re told to.

The lack of information from the media and the lack of desire on their part to put forward an honest and accurate assessment of what’s going on is genuinely terrible. I don’t say this to exonerate the Israelis, far from it in fact as I see the Israeli government as a partner to Hamas in prolonging the misery of people on the Gaza strip, but to point out the repercussions. This is directly feeding an ever-growing anti-Semitic movement here in Europe. We downplay it and that’s to our detriment. Every time we fail to arrest a Muslim male who shouts that all Jews should be killed we embolden those who would say the same against Muslims. There is a normalisation of anti-Semitism going on and we simply don’t know what to do. Combat it and we make the opposite side even more annoyed, allow it and we’ll probably see more innocent Jewish people of various countries suffering as a consequence of the Israeli government’s actions. Hardly fair is it?

The media are feeding this with a never-ending parade of dead children without perspective. Why were these children there? How many children did Hamas force back into certain areas? How many people do Hamas risk by launching rockets from the most densely populated areas? It’s about honesty, it’s about telling the truth, and it’s about not whitewashing either side and certainly not being used as a propaganda mouthpiece for an organisation that actually has support for the murder of a religion in its charter. Hamas don’t harbour any love for the Palestinian people, don’t be fooled.

One last thing I want to leave you with and it’s something you cannot dispute and you’ll see it yourself if you look. When it comes to news media the amount of innocents killed is not in the least relevant. They’re selling you product. Here’s a simple formula.

Jews killing Muslims = Massive news. Mention it constantly.

Muslims killing Christians = If the whole “jews killing muslims thing” dies down then we should focus on this and get some outrage going.

Muslims killing muslims = Meh, who cares? Only run with this if it’s something sensational and there are no better stories such as “cat stuck in tree” to run on the news.

Our media has ignored horrors in the Middle East lately, at best they’ve earned a small mention. Thousands upon thousands injured, murdered, raped and mutilated. How much did you hear of that while Israel and Hamas have been having their regular head butting competition?  Heard much about Libya on the news lately? No? Must be going pretty well over there since we helped topple Gadaffi, right? Right?

Don’t be fooled guys, we care about that which we’re told to care about. You have all the information at your fingertips and yet we’re still being led around by the nose. If you want the final piece of proof wait until this current conflict is over. See how quickly nobody cares about the Palestinian people again. If that doesn’t depress you nothing will. Do your own research, read even that with which you disagree, read the propaganda from both sides, and then make your mind up. Even at that point you should remain flexible, there’s always more to any situation than the obvious after all.

 

 

 

Your government thinks you are a moron.

You! Yes, you reading this. Your government thinks you are a moron. A sheep, a number, an expendable asset who merely needs appeasing from time to time in order to keep you under the jackboot of what they laughingly call democracy. You’re given the illusion that you can change things, that you can decide who gets into power, that you have a say all the time working towards ensuring you can do none of those things. Want proof? How about the fact they’re treating you like a moron over a key issue right this minute?

I realise that to some this sounds like typical conspiracy nonsense but how else could we explain the actions of our government? To make this point clear I’m going to avoid conspiracy theories and even historical events and focus merely on the recent events we can all consider. I promise there will be no mention of reptillians or a new world order here and if you can argue my point and tell me why I’m wrong I invite you to do so because I’d really like to be proven wrong in this case more than you might believe.

Here in the UK recent events have beggared belief. Not only is our government behaving in the most shocking of manners they’re actually rubbing our noses in it safe in the knowledge society has become too apathetic to do anything about it. This is terrifying to me and should be to you also.

Let’s look at the whole “historical sex abuse” inquiry being touted by government. Taken at face value the idea makes sense, find all of the members of government who have been raping and abusing children and bring them to justice. Yes, government being pro-active – kind of – and making a difference with a ‘full and frank inquiry’. Who could argue that’s a bad thing, right? I mean, if you did that would make you as bad as the abusers themselves. Our government cares after all. Bullshit, complete and utter bullshit. What they are talking about is a historic inquiry only covering the 1970’s and 1980’s. Can you see what’s wrong with that? Let me tell you.

Firstly, I’m no clairvoyant but I can tell you that the result of this inquiry will be “Yes, there were small groups involved in child abuse and they were covered up” and then one or two dead people will be ‘brought to justice’ and if we’re lucky another couple of creaky old political monsters who are practically dead already. Prosecutions will happen, apologies will be made, and there will be promises that it will never happen again. All will be good in the world. Obviously the people who covered it up won’t end up in court, those shadowy civil servants who seem to rule the rulers. Nor will those who simply chose to look the other way be charged with anything although they most assuredly should. How could they be in those hallowed halls of power and not know something was going on, even just a rumour in those circumstances should trigger and investigation. But they’ll be left alone.

Worst of all it will end with the 1980’s. We’re to believe that any such abuse miraculously ended when the 90’s rolled around. It’s just a wild coincidence that many of the people in power now started to crawl into the corridors of Westminster in that decade. But none of them were as bad as those monsters from the 70’s and 80’s, no way! But it doesn’t matter who thinks that because the media will be crowing over the dead and almost dead dragged screaming – in the case of the living – into the light. We’ll ignore the obvious, just give us a couple of monsters to hate!

Just to really rub our nose in it we then hear they’re choosing some old battleaxe to head the inquiry who’s not exactly above suspicion herself when it comes to thinking that covering up such crimes among our ‘betters’ is a good idea. Luckily there was some press stoked outrage about this and she’s to be replaced. With the way things are heading I wouldn’t be surprised if David Cameron were to announce Jonathan King was now to head the inquiry given his experience.

Think about all the child protection laws that have been passed in the last four decades. Think about the things we’ve tolerated for ‘the sake of the children’. We’ve seen works of fiction such as horror movies banned, we’ve seen the Internet being slowly strangled by opt out censorship devices. We’ve seen an increase in powers to scrutinise our every move, we’ve seen parents banned from taking photos at sports days and children’s plays. We’ve tolerated ridiculous measures because we’ve been told it protects our children and when all that was going on it seems many of the people behind those laws being passed were either raping our children, covering up that abuse, or turning the other cheek.

Given all this how can we possibly trust our politicians now? How can we trust senior civil servants or even senior members of many police forces ( look at Savile as an example of police inquiries simply ‘going away’), how can we possibly trust any of those in power unless we do actually get an open, public inquiry? The answer is, we can’t. We cannot trust them and they are not to be trusted but things will carry on because we’re just good little sheep who will only grumble quietly whilst getting on with life and further greasing the wheels of government that mince our futures.

If you’re from outside of the UK and perhaps feeling a little safer I’m afraid I have to burst your bubble. Your government is no better. Take a closer look, you’ll see.

 

Atheism and other assorted stupidity.

First of all let me set my stall out, to all intents and purposes I most certainly am an atheist. I do not even vaguely accept religion of any variety as having any validity or foundation  in reality. At best I find it to be a foolish belief in man made fairy tales and at worst a divisive virus that shows man at his most reprehensible. Put simply I abhor religion. The thing is, this is just my opinion and nothing more. I’m comfortable knowing there is absolutely no evidence backing up religious doctrine or claims and that’s where it would end providing religion didn’t interfere with my life which, sadly, it does. But what’s equally annoying to me now are the new breed of atheists.

You know the sort, they pile into any given forum, quote scripture from their gods of atheism – Dawkins in particular – and then proceed to attack people who believe in religion on a quite personal level. They even have meetings now where they all convene to discuss how they don’t believe in something and, quite frankly, it gets right on my tits. Why? Put simply it’s because they’re acting exactly like the followers of a sky genie now and it’s getting bloody hard to tell them apart.

There are a couple of very simple things which seem to completely elude these young followers of the non-god. Firstly it’s rather difficult to put out a fire using petrol. What you tend to get is a bigger fire and lots of people spending time as guests of the burn unit. The other thing is that you simply cannot argue with faith. Trying to use logical arguments on people who have completely illogical beliefs is so utterly pointless it hurts. Now, if you’re debating for the sake of debate then it can be really rather entertaining but you can’t help getting the impression many people are looking to convert others via the means of debate. Why not ask them if they’d like a non-baptism while you’re at it?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think atheists are anywhere near as reprehensible as some of our religious brethren. No atheist has ever told me I should die for disrespecting their beliefs and nor do atheists tend to throw out ridiculous arguments based on mouldy old books written as a control device for the plebs, they tend to focus on the reality of the situation relying on facts and proof. But so many of them really need to reel their necks in.

I don’t understand attacking someone who is religious simply because they are religious. The most evil thing most of these people do is infect their children with the same god virus they have. For the most part the overwhelming majority of religious people practice their religion and lead normal lives. Don’t discount the fact that for some religion brings comfort, it brings a sense of purpose to those who cannot comprehend nature or the fact there’s a good chance that when it’s over, it’s really over. Why hate them for what is little more than a weakness? Treat them as equals and perhaps pity them a little, anyone hedging their bets for an afterlife is clearly missing out on some aspect of life and as long as they are happy then I say leave them to it.

Of course, the viral nature of religion means it tries to infect everybody. Every religious person thinks the world would be a better place if only it ran according to the rules their particular brand of madness has set out. Some of those values aren’t all that bad really, the ones based more on forgiveness and support. Others are so repellent you can see why the religion itself enjoys the greatest popularity in countries with extremely poor education and cultural retardism.

So where am I going with this? Well, my little atheist chum, how about you stop focussing on some sad sack in Ohio who happens to love Christ or some guy in Blackburn who thinks Allah is the ticket to everlasting glory. Those people will never hurt you, they won’t for the most part even dream of forcing you to follow their rules or doctrines. Focus instead on our governments, ensure they do not weaken in the face of religion as they so often do because attacking the individual merely strengthens the case for protecting religion, a move many of our governments are creeping towards.

Campaign against ridiculous rules concerning whether it should be illegal to insult religion (it shouldn’t), campaign to take away the tax exempt status of religions (I never did understand that status), campaign to get bishops kicked out of the house of Lords. Do what you can to ensure religion remains a personal thing and then you can comfortably debate it with the individuals. Don’t trust in god, we’ve seen where that leads, trust in humanity and at least be disappointed in a manner you can deal with.

So, what’s next?

It seems like I’m always busy these days but apparently not so busy that I’m refusing to dig into new projects. Here’s what’s coming up between now and the winter.

The Hayden Hewitt Show: I know, it’s a catchy title isn’t it. I’ve mentioned this recently but it’s pretty much a weekly online radio show covering current events and topics of interest with guests and even a live call in. Once the show’s finished it will be archived and within 48 hours you should be able to get it on iTunes and the wonderful Stitcher app.

The Eloquent Gentlemen: Seeing as we enjoy it so much we’re going to build on the idea a little. We’re going to be improving the podcast and adding a website which – as far as we can tell – will be a little like the Huffington Post if everyone at the Huffington Post rocked up to work each day off their tits on Absinthe and LSD. There will probably be a small crowd funding element to this so if you like it please consider being a part of it. It goes without saying there will be a LOT more details released about this before too long.

The LiveLeak Show: After going on a break back in January the all new LiveLeak Live Show should be unveiled around October in time for the LiveLeak birthday show. The new show will be totally LiveLeak centric and media heavy. It will involve graphic material, material that will make you feel unwell, material which will make you laugh, and massive amount of trolling and swearing.

Spare Room Stream: Not of interest to everyone but I’ll continue doing my live video streams from my spare room to hang out with the LiveLeak folks. At least that’s the plan, at this rate I won’t have any spare time left!

There is also a business related podcast (UK small and medium business) in the works but I’m mostly just hosting that one rather than offering any great insight. Of course, I probably don’t offer up great insight terribly often anyway. I’ll keep you guys posted just in case it’s your sort of thing.

I’m also still checking the viability of another idea but it’s a pretty big deal and I don’t want to reveal details yet just in case a) It isn’t actually viable and b) I cock it all up somehow. Needless to say what’s left of 2014 is going to be damn busy!

When did we give up our backbone?

Looking at the way our governments operate today – and by ‘our’ I’m mostly talking about the UK and US – one has to wonder when exactly it was that we lost not only our way but our backbone. So completely controlled and owned are we that it has become apparent we will tolerate practically anything our governments impose on us providing they either  tell us it’s keeping us safe or telling us which group needs demonising today in order that yet more of our rights and freedoms can be taken away from us. I used to think it was actually the job of our government, our security services, and our armed forces to protect our freedoms and rights. How wrong and how very naive I was.

I’m not sure I’ve ever entirely trusted our politicians at least not since the time I actually fully knew what a politician was. How can you trust anyone to have your best interests at heart when their only desire is to gain power and cling onto it at all costs? Yes, I realise there are good politicians but I’ve been made aware of so few they might as well not be there so anonymous and ineffective are they. We’re having rights and freedoms taken away from us at a breathtaking rate but it’s not that which infuriates me so badly, although it’s bad enough, it’s the acceptance of the people I can’t stand and I pretty much include myself in that because I’m sat here writing and not actually doing anything of value to change the situation.

Look at the excuses we get for eroding our freedoms. The key one is that they are protecting us from terrorists. Well forgive me for being a bit slow and everything but seeing as we’re always being told “They hate us for our freedoms” aren’t we kind of letting those guys win if we don’t have any bloody freedoms left? Disruption is the key factor in the effectiveness of terrorism and in that regard they’ve got us beaten hands down. Could you imagine a Patriot Act pre 9/11? Yes, terrorist atrocities are despicable and devastating, none more so than 9/11 so far but statistically you’ve got far more chance of being struck by lightning than dying in a terror attack, how many freedoms would you give up to protect you from lightning?

Freedom comes at a price, what good is it for us to be kept “safe” from the threat of terror if we are kept as property by our governments? Through the collection of data they will know what you’ve said, what you’ve looked at, who you’ve called, where you’ve been. I do realise that they won’t be interested in the overwhelming majority of us but will it really end at saving us from the bearded explody people? I seem to recall other anti-terror laws being abused by the likes of local councils how do we expect this to be any different. And this is just the thin end of the wedge too.

Have you noticed we’re governed with fear more often? In America, long-held as the land of the free, there was a terrorist attack in Boston and the result of this was pretty much martial law being imposed on the city while an ever more militarised police force searched property without warrant or reasonable cause beyond “SOMEONE WENT IN THIS HOUSE!!”. Wherever we turn we’re being squeezed by draconian legislation. Speech laws, social media laws, don’t speak your mind, don’t upset anybody or we’ll send you to prison, the police will beat and kill you if you step even vaguely out of line, no freedom of information laws apply to your “betters”. We live in societies where those who are supposed to lead us are corrupt and often despicable and evil. They can lie, steal and cheat and get nothing worse than a slap on the wrist and quite often a promotion. Crimes are covered up, laws pushed through our respective systems regardless of public opinion. We’re lost.

It’s no conspiracy theory to point these things out. They’re happening right in front of us, in broad daylight and we’re now feeling powerless to prevent them. We feel either a hopeless anger or a crippling apathy knowing that our usual means of changing those at the top are now useless. Want to organise a march? You’ll need a permit. Want to protest? That might not be allowed and if it is you stand a good chance of getting your head caved in by a police officer. Want to vote the current bunch of leaches out of office? No problem, they don’t mind because that won’t change anything either. Those promises from the opposition float away like dust in the wind once they’re in power.

I can’t help thinking previous generations might have taken a stand. At the height of the terrorism carried out by the IRA our governments refused to hand more powers to our security services. People took pride in picking themselves up, dusting themselves down, and carrying on because they know to do otherwise meant handing the reins of power to the enemy. It’s that blitz spirit, over the pond maybe it’s the spirit of independence. It’s all gone now though, somewhere down the line we lost our backbone and our ‘betters’ know it. How else could they flaunt their shameless abuses of power in our faces with such wild abandon?

They’ve so very nearly got us now, we are so close to being powerless that they can taste it. They know they won’t be hanging outside their halls of power by their necks, they know we’ll either take their bullshit excuses hook line and sinker or simply wallow in a quiet and apathetic rage about what they’re doing. I’ve always said I hate presenting problems without solutions but this time I’m stuck, guys. I’m stuck.

 

Time for a change!

It’s been a little quiet here on the site of late and for that I do apologise in particular to that small group of wonderful people who do actually come here and read my brain dumps and listen to the podcasts. It’s not that I’ve gotten bored and I most certainly haven’t run out of interesting and annoying things to write about, I’ve just been a touch busy.

There are a few things I can’t really talk about yet, a few that are probably too dull to talk about, and a couple I definitely can give you some information on. First of all the Hayden Hewitt Podcast. This has gone off the radar a little as I’ve had the Eloquent Gentlemen podcast as a playground recently (more on that a little later) and if I’m honest it always felt a little forced. After thinking about it I’ve decided I won’t be continuing with that particular podcast in its current form. But if you enjoyed it fear not…it’s going to be far better!

mypodcast

At some point in the next couple of weeks I’m going to turn that podcast into what I can only describe as a ‘show’. Initially it will be audio only and it will be based on current and topical events, I’ll have guests on depending on the topic, and best of all I’ll be able to take Skype calls and e-mails because we’ll be going out live! The show will be broadcast via LiveLeak.com using the live streaming platform, after the show has gone out it will then be archived on LiveLeak and available to download from there too. Within a couple of days of broadcast the show will then be available on various other platforms (iTunes, Stitcher, e.t.c.) so you can continue listening however you wish.

I’m pretty excited about this as well as nervous. Broadcasting live isn’t anything new to me but doing it for me most certainly is. Hopefully the show will be informative and entertaining and if you’re around when I go live I do hope you’ll call in so I don’t feel like Billy No Mates. I’ll post up more information soon but it’s looking like the first shows will concern themselves with – among other things – The People’s Voice and what exactly did go wrong with David Icke’s dream of a 24 hour alternate news station and fracking where I’ll have a guest on who works in the industry and he’ll explain why it’s not as bad as everyone seems to think which should get some folks arguing the point.

I’ll let you guys know well in advance so you can send in questions ahead of time should you wish. This should be FUN!

Now onto The Eloquent Gentlemen. If you’ve listened to these rambling, misanthropic podcasts it should be apparent I’m having far too much fun. Both Dave and I want to do a lot more with the Eloquent Gentlemen including a site of its own and perhaps just a little more structure to the format. If you haven’t listened to one yet you really should because what better way to spend an hour of your life is there than listening to two middle-aged men complaining roundly about all manner of things? We’re also considering using crowd funding to really provide an outstanding service to you cynicism lovers out there. Of course, I’ll keep you fully informed of that too.

As I said there are some other things I wish I could talk about but at this point it would be way too premature. Hopefully you’ll agree that there’s already some pretty cool stuff on the horizon and I really hope you’ll enjoy as much as I will. Please send me a mail if you want any particular topics covered too! Speak to you guys soon.

Don’t be an Internet shut in.

Social networking, the phrase which gained so much popularity with the advent of a website that isn’t actually all that social. “So, you’re going on another anti-Facebook rant then Hayden?” Looks that way, sorry! Of all the myriad benefits Facebook offers us such as the chance to keep in contact with people we never bothered to keep in contact with from school, the chance to see what someone we probably don’t even like that much had for their dinner, and of course everyone’s pets the one thing it doesn’t do is encourage any kind of real social interaction. What it does, and does amazingly well, is keep a vast swatch of people captivated with absolutely bullshit so that they can be monetised correctly. It’s all incredibly well done if we’re to be honest about it.

Take a look at your friends list. How many of those people are actually your “friends”? How many do you even stay in touch with on Facebook? If you’re like most people you’ve, for the most part, accumulated a list of people from your past you didn’t care all that much about anyway. You also probably post and comment alongside people you either see fairly regularly or could actually talk to on the phone (or with an online telephony service like Skype, let’s stay modern here!). Nothing about Facebook encourages genuine interaction. It’s all about sharing the mundane, harvesting “likes”, and indulging in small bouts of “conversation” via the tiny chat window. All you really need to do is post crap others will keep reading and consume, all the time being served advertising tailored roughly to whatever you’re typing about today. Nice!

Just look at the level of interaction. Before Facebook would you ever have wondered what someone’s dinner looked like unless it was something genuinely exotic? Granted, if your friend called you up and said “Hey, I’m about to eat raw snapping turtle served on a bed of pulled pigs eyes” you might respond with a picture request (well…if you’re like me you would), but if the same friend were to say “Hi, I’m having a burger and some chips. Want a picture?” you’d quite rightly ask them if they’d had a brain injury. We’re drowning in a sea of mundane junk for hours every day and we apparently love it. And then there’s the “social” aspect.

Being old an miserable I remember when we would not only trawl websites (as opposed to A website) and use these things called “Chat rooms”. Now, chat rooms were pretty epic. You’d have IRC ones where the lulz could get a bit unfortunate from time to time and you’d have organised and ever so slightly sanitised ones. What you got though, in spades, was an opportunity to meet and chat with people from all over the world. You didn’t have to ‘friend’ them, you could just chat and move on. Sometimes you’d click with people and you’d perhaps meet up regularly to chat but it was more dynamic, more social. But I guess I’m just old.

Thing is, this is all still out there so why aren’t we opening our horizons beyond groups of people we know or groups we know will have the same interests as us? Why do we spend hours reading how long it took for someone to get a tyre fixed or an ingrown toenail dug out when we could be reading websites with content that’s actually interesting. Why have we bought into this race for the bottom wholesale, why have we embraced the lowest common denominator where the endless stream of non-events is only punctuated by a trip to buzzfeed to see yet another list of things you’ve seen before? Why on earth do we sit on a website playing games that are actually mindlessly repetitive tasks dressed up with micro transactions? We’re acting like cattle.

Don’t be a shut in, get out there and explore cyberspace while we still have it. Find those odd sites, find those chat rooms where you’ve no clue as to who will be in there let alone what their opinions or interests might be. Be social, make the most of the opportunity you have to broaden your horizons beyond your ‘friends’ list. And don’t worry if it means spending a little less time on Facebook because if any of the people on your list are actually your friends they’ll understand. Maybe they’ll even tag along.

Easing that middle class guilt one “protest” at a time.

You know how sometimes you say things you might not actually feel if only to climb right up into the face of someone who annoys you? Let me take you back a couple of years, I was walking through the City centre here in Manchester with a friend of mine. We’d both been working all day and we were off to the pub for some refreshment and jolly banter. You know the situation I’m sure. One the way to the pub I was accosted by a middle-aged, clearly very middle class, woman who was waving a tract of pamphlets in my face demanding I boycott JCB. It appears we had stumbled onto a demonstration in favour of the Palestinian people outside the old BBC buildings. How unfortunate.

boycott

You see, I don’t like having things thrust into my face and have some horrible, middle class hypocrite tell me what to do. It sort of boils my piss to a degree. However, in the interests of being a good person I promised her that I would not be buying any bulldozers or diggers thinking this might help. Apparently it annoyed her and she informed me I clearly wasn’t taking the plight of the Palestinian people seriously, that I was selfish, and did I support oppressive regimes? It was at this point I calmly informed her that I was going to the pub and I didn’t care if they bombed Palestine and sowed the ground with salt thus ending the conversation.

Clearly, I don’t believe any such thing and I do care about people being oppressed regardless of their race, creed or colour but like most people I’m a hypocrite. Do you think we should boycott Israeli produce because of the grinding poverty and restrictions on the Palestinian people? In that case why do you care about them and not the Chinese people operating under horrible working conditions and kept so far below the poverty line they couldn’t reach it with a ladder because that’s who built the device (or at least many of the components for the device) you’re reading this on. Why are Palestinian people more important than Chinese people. “Ahhhhh” I hear you mutter “but the Chinese people aren’t being systematically oppressed and murdered by a government” to which I might reply “What China are you thinking about then?”.

It’s easy to find a cause to pin ourselves to from the relative luxury of our comfortable Western existence. Even more so when you’ve been told which ones to support by the mainstream media. I’m not sure how things stand now but not long ago it was mooted that the most oppressed people in the world were the Rohingya from Myanmar. A small muslim population not exactly beloved of the ruling regime. Where are their protests? Where are their pamphlets and documentaries? Oh…there haven’t been any because nobody actually cares about the Rohingya people, they aren’t a hot topic which is odd because their abuse is tantamount to ethnic cleansing. But hey, fuck them because it’s easier to buy a different brand of oranges and pretend you actually care.

Want another one? How about the Dalit people of India, pretty much the largest group of enslaved people on the planet. It’s a social class of people deemed to be “untouchable” or to put it another way “filthy, subhuman trash”. It’s estimated they make up around a quarter of the Indian population and they are treated as refuse.  When was the last time you bought a T-Shirt proclaiming you support them? No? Fancy boycotting curry? Thought not.

I’m not saying don’t care about whatever your cause of the week happens to be, far from it. It’s vitally important we carry a candle for oppressed people anywhere but do try to keep some perspective and actually care because you genuinely do, not because you’re supposed to because that’s the behaviour of a shallow, opportunist. You’re doing it for you, not for them. Of course if you genuinely do care for the oppressed people of the world and campaign on their behalf you have my complete admiration. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a bulldozer currently not used by any government being nasty to anyone else. Can you suggest one?

A system worth saving?

Just when you thought the whole historical sex abuse drama couldn’t get any more twisted along comes someone who can throw a serious spanner into the works of any ex-politician or celebrity hoping their past history of sexual wrongs stayed a thing of the past, step up Lord Tebbit. For those who don’t know Lord Tebbit is an arch Tory, was the Chairman of the Tory party and, during the Thatcher years, was renowned as the chap would would beat politicians into submission when it came to towing the party line. He’s put himself front and centre of the furore by quite literally stating there was a cover up. Oh dear.

He alleges the Thatcher government orchestrated this disgraceful cover up to protect the system. He also claims it was a case of getting it spectacularly wrong given the claims of abuse kept piling up. Now, some people have claimed it’s wonderful him stepping forward and blowing the doors off this, I’m less impressed. It’s all well and good looking at cases from 30 and 40 years ago but why in the hell didn’t he do something back then? Oh, of course. They were protecting “The System”. Now pardon me if I come across a little cynical but have you heard anything more disgusting than this? What kind of system is so important that child sexual abuse should be swept under the rug to protect it? The government? Hardly. We were supposed to be a democracy, we were supposed to trust the people in power to do the right thing, to be beyond reproach and now we find out that, along with screwing our service industries into the ground, successive governments from back then (and it couldn’t have only been the Tories, get real) were sure what was actually in our best interests was to protect paedophiles with well paid jobs.

Anyone alive from that period that was in power should be dragged before the beak at the earliest available opportunity because I for one am sick and tired of the state prosecutors dragging out some dead or nearly dead celebrity and dragging them through the mud (and rightly so in many cases!) but ignoring the obvious fact they must have had a support system, people who protected and even enabled them. I want these people dragged into the light, pushed before the people and face their punishment should they be found guilty. Given Lord Tebbit’s claims why isn’t there a list? Why isn’t there information on all those who knew about this abuse yet either turned the other cheek or buried it? Of course, it’s only once I say that then I realise why. We have to protect the system.

Even the mere mention of organised sexual abuse among those occupying the higher echelons of power used to be enough to have you labelled as a conspiracy nut but it’s all coming to light now. So why are we only being drop fed a few celebrities to burn on the bonfire of public indignation? Should the government decide to launch what they will doubtless call “a full, and frank investigation” into the whole affair who exactly will trust them when chances are the results will be a couple of dead senior politicians and perhaps one over 70 are handed to the wolves? I know I won’t, I can’t. The seeds of doubt are sown too well and they’re bearing fruit.

We’re told that all of this anti-authoritarian content on “alternative media” websites is a major contributory factor in people not trusting politicians any more. Sorry to break it to you governments of the world but it’s entirely your own doing. Protect the system? How does any of us possibly believe in protecting a system so inherently rotten that even when a senior politician informs the world of sexual abuse cover ups nobody is really surprised? There is no system here worth protecting, drag it all into the light of public scrutiny, clean that dirty laundry before our very eyes, and maybe we can go from there. Maybe.