A REVIEW OF A YEAR
IN THE LIFE OF A BLOG:
It’s approaching one year since I began churning out my various ramblings in blog-form. It seems like an age ago that Voice for Children gave me some useful guidance on getting into the strange new scene of blogging – an area I had thought the preserve of computer nerds.
But here I am – just a mere run-of-the-mill nerd – nearly a year later – with over 96,000 unique site users. And – with some pride – having earned from the politically late, unlamented Frank Walker, the nom de guerre, “Quite Vile Blog” for my writings.
You just know you’re doing something right when people entrenched in power display the irritation of those to whom any kind of defiance arises as a mystifying culture-shock.
Producing this blog has been a very rewarding experience – one which would not happen without readers – so thanks to most of you. (The others know who they are – don’t worry – I haven’t finished with you yet.)
I had intended to do one or two postings during the holiday, but on those occasions when the chest infection has left me feeling able to do anything, I’ve been preparing our legal case against Jack Straw, the UK Justice Secretary, so forgive the long silence.
But, returning to the subject of my – err – less than approving readers – I promised a long time ago I would do a year-end round-up of some of the best examples of hostility, abuse and frank insanity submitted since I began the blog. Some of the stuff is actually very funny – so I guess even my nutters contribute to this blog’s success – in their own, unintentional, fashion.
But there is only so much time for trawling through the unpublished comments of assorted trolls, the thinly disguised abuse from other States members, paedophiles, crypto-Nazis – and, of course, the shape-shifting, space-alien lizard, meta-conspiracy loonies.
Fortunately, such – err – submissions form only a small part of the correspondence I receive. But a select bibliography of my acquired obnoxia will have to wait until another day.
For today, I thought I would cast an eye over my various screeds produced during the first two months of this blog – and select a Top Ten, if you will. Providing I have time, I’ll do a similar review for the rest of 2008.
Having viewed, with some surprise, the sheer volumes of stuff I’ve written, I guess a lot of my more recent readers will have had neither the time nor inclination to plough through it all. So I thought it might be interesting to readers if I briefly described some of the articles I consider to be of some significance or merit, thus enabling you to go straight to them in the archive on the right.
One of the very first bits of advice I was given was to keep entries short. Just how much notice I took of that advice is self-evident when re-reading the blog. I know – I am in the habit of going on far too long – and I promise to try and be (a little) more succinct this year. But in my defence, I took the view that in Channel Island media there is simply no main-stream outlet for detailed, in-depth reportage; there is no shortage of shallow, 500 word pieces and 60 second sound-bites. So I have tried to fill that market niche with something more considered – and straight from the front-line of local politics. I like to think I’ve succeeded in that objective – but, no doubt, I’ll be rapidly told otherwise if I’m wrong.
It’s also plain just how much child protection issues have come to dominate the blog. I make no apologies for that – as circumstances have dictated that it simply had to be that way. But it was never my intention to focus so heavily on one subject – instead I thought the blog would be a way of getting various issues aired; whatever struck me as being of interest at the time.
Which seems like a good point to elide into the first tranche of my recommendations. The postings which follow are united by no consideration – other than that they stick in my mind – for one reason or another. And, although I’ve listed them from 1 to 10 – that ranking is purely chronological – as opposed to reflecting any personal ranking. For in determining whether my writings have any great merit – it is only you, dear reader, who can come to such judgments.
I hope you find the blog interesting – and that you will continue to visit. Both globally and locally, the next 12 months look like providing no shortage of material. As in the Chinese curse – we live in interesting times.
1: An Introduction to the Microcosm: 22nd January, 2008.
It would be good to claim some great attribution of genius foresight for having written about the inevitable melt-down of the world’s economy back on the 22nd January – my first ever blog entry. Alas – I’m not a genius; instead those to whom we customarily put unquestioning trust in are – in reality – a collection of clowns, grifters, morons, hucksters, egotists, ignoramuses and crooks.
All those people – who just must be so terribly clever and expert – because they have a first class honours degree in maths and economics; the people who have worked for years to become Chartered Accountants; the bankers on a million quid a year; the lawyers; the city-boy stock-brokers; the financial geniuses who “merited” £50 million annual bonuses because of the “risks” “they” take; the lawyers who manufacture legality for all of their scams – the politicians who tolerate it – are – in the main – a collection of shysters.
Let us hope that civilisation begins to learn that painful lesson.
Here is a little of what I wrote back then: –
“I’m no mathematician, but I don’t think you need to be to understand a few, inescapable, facts. I often wonder at the sheer irrationality, the religion-like ‘faith’, the adherence to fantasy which grips supposedly intelligent people when “economics” is the subject. People who like to imagine themselves as hard-faced realists are suddenly transformed into people who may as well believe that Harry Potter represents some kind of accurate simulacra of the way the world is.
For these are people who believe “economic growth” can go on forever. Or, at least, pretend to believe this whilst they salt away their own fortunes to buffer them from human reality. When faced with such people – and you try to explain to them the pretty simple concepts of entropy, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the inescapable limits upon exponential growth within a closed system – their agitation becomes so palpable that they may as well be ‘speaking in tongues’ for all the relationship to facts born by their babble. Mercifully, such exchanges are always short. FT Man invariably changes the subject as soon as he possibly can.”
2: Laughing Boy in the Third – 50-1 – or Your Money Back!: 23rd January, 2008.
In similar vein – another look at the supposed “reality” for which we accede to people earning $50 million “bonuses” – because they must merit it, right?
These clowns have taken us to the cleaners – and no mistake. Here’s the quote: –
“Others have described Friday’s cash bale-out as “Social Security for the rich” – a very apt description.
It’s another illustration of just how far removed from reality the so-called “Iron Law of the Market” is. These people gambled – they took the “risks” that supposedly justify their $100 million bonuses – they brought their allegedly great skills to the table – and they blew it. They lost. And they lost not through some cruel trick of fate – but because they were gripped by a kind of collective stupidity; a misguided belief in some kind of miraculous bootstrapping pyramid scheme which could just go on and on.
Now ask your self – if you or I cocked-up this badly in our jobs, what would happen?
Look at it another way. If you or I went down to the bookies and put our salary on Laughing Boy at 50-1 in the 3.10 at Kemptown – and it fell over – the full, inescapable “market” consequences of our actions would fall upon us.
Now imagine our hedge fund manager, banker or stockbroker who did the same. In the strange, parallel universe occupied by these people, they would just go down to the bookies and ask for their stake back.
And the bookies would hand it back to them – and for good measure, recover their losses off of taxpayers.
I’ve never gambled before, but hell, if this is how it works, next time I’m passing a betting shop, I’ll nip in and offer them this kind of arrangement.”
3: Growing Problems: 24th January, 2008.
Again ( I was on a bit of an economics roll back then) in this posting I took a look at a phenomena which is – in ‘emperor’s new clothes’ fashion – simply accepted unquestioningly by mainstream society – that of economic growth. Politicians of every stripe – Labour, Conservative, Republican or Democrat – all sell themselves to voters on the basis that they can deliver the best ‘economic growth’.
And it’s all a pack of lies.
I guess what makes it remarkable for an accepted article of faith, is that the concept of unending economic growth can be shown to be the irrational, utopian fantasy that it is through some simple, rudimentary arithmetic. This is some of what I wrote: –
“We can state with absolute certainty that growth will have an end – and probably a good deal sooner than we care to imagine.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s take a look at the maths.
And to make it relevant, let’s use an economic sum in today’s news. It’s reported that China “enjoyed” economic growth of a staggering 11.4% last year.
For purposes of illustration, let us assume this figure was repeated annually.
Under these circumstances, how long would it take the size of the Chinese economy to double? And think about that – the entire Chinese economy – doubled. How many more coal-fired power stations and boom-town hi-rise blocks would that be?
Let’s set aside the growth rate in China of 11.4% for the moment, and just look at the basic calculating technique.
It is possible to produce a ready estimate of doubling periods using what is known as the Rule of 70, or the Rule of 72, or the Rule of 76. The best choice of numerator will be determined by the size of percentage growth.
For our purposes, let’s use the Rule of 72, and take an annual percentage growth rate and divide 72 as the numerator into the growth rate sum. For example, say you’re looking at 4% P/A growth. Take 72 and divide it by 4; this gives you an answer of 18. What does this figure mean?
The 18 represents the number of years that it would take your economy to double in size.
So at this 4% steady growth rate, the total size of your economy has to double every 18 years. Can this go on indefinitely? No. Consider an index figure of, say, 20, to represent the starting size of your economy. It doubles – then it’s 40. It doubles again – then it’s 80. It doubles again – then it’s 160.
Thus we see that the quantum of each most recent doubling period is greater than the total of all of the quantum’s which preceded it – combined.
No closed system (like the planet) can sustain such exponential growth indefinitely.
Another interesting thing is the speed at which the boundaries – the limiting factors – of the system are hit. Ecologists use this analogy: imagine you have a large lily pond. It has 1 water lily in it. Overnight, that doubles to 2. Overnight again, that doubles to 4. Again – it doubles to 8. This exponential growth continues until the pond is full after 30 days.
Question: – When was the pond half-full?
Answer: – it was half-full on the 29th day.
Day 29 – and you still have fully one half of your resource, in this case surface area, remaining unused.
And just one day later? That half of your starting resource is also all used up.
So let’s run that Chinese growth rate of 11.4% through our ready-reckoner.
Take 72, divide by 11.4. This gives 6.3157895. I think we can call it 6.32.
So that’s a time period of 6.32 years until the economy has doubled in size if it grows at the, admittedly, extraordinary rate of 11.4%. OK, so such a high growth-rate is an extreme example – but even at this speed, China has still not yet caught up with Western “standards” of “consumption”.
Even setting aside the annihilation of the planet’s biological ‘carrying-capacity’ upon which we all depend (Yep, even Merrill Lynch execs and central bank chairmen) can we even imagine the mineral and energy requirements of such growth?”
4: Anatomy of a Spin: #2: 30th January 2008.
A different – yet equally fascinating – subject forms the basis for the posting of the 30th January. I wrote about the social psychological phenomena, known as “Groupthink”.
Truly – Groupthink could have been devised as a theory simple through observing how the States of Jersey ‘functions’. I simply couldn’t began to quantify the number of utterly dumb, incompetent, reckless and dishonest policy decisions I’ve seen enacted – all because of the Groupthink culture which dominates Jersey politics.
But Groupthink in action was recognised by society long before there were social psychologists:
“A time-honoured and remarkably prescient examination of Groupthink is to be found in the fairy story The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Now, you know this isn’t aimed at anyone specific, OK?
But imagine a leader, possessed of immense arrogance, vanity and wealth – a person very much used to being surrounded by fawning sycophants – ambitious social climbers and those who wish to touch the hem of power; a leader who – beneath the plausible and polished exterior – is actually a weak, vacuous and ignorant little man.
In the story – such is the degree of sycophancy, of grovelling, the fear of upsetting the emperor by telling the truth, the burning need of those he confers power upon to keep his approbation – that no one rescues him from the vanity & stupidity which sees him marching around naked – but convinced he is wearing the very finest clothes ever made.
Of course – it’s an “out-grouper” – a little boy – who shatters the “group cohesion” – the Groupthink – by shouting out that the glorious leader is naked.
But what were all those courtiers, those family members, those advisers who wrought this folly engaging in?
IT WAS TEAMWORK, STUPID!
That little boy?
“Dear oh dear. No good; not a “Team Player””.
5: “I’ve had Enough of Your Big Words!” 31st January, 2008.
Forgive my ‘periphrasis’ – I’m afraid January ’08 appears to be dominating so far. I’ll try and take a leap forward with the next entry.
The title of this blog posting is a quote from Frank Walker – when he was shouting down the phone at me when I refused his demands to resign as Health & Social Services Minister – so I thought the cause of posterity merited revisiting it:
“Today I thought I would drift away from Jersey politics for a while and muse upon a criticism which is often made of me.
I have a confession to make – I love using big, complex words. I’m accused of making my speeches unintelligible by using phrases which we just don’t often come across on a day-to-day basis. But I do this not because I’m some kind of learned intellectual, I’m not. I left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications whatsoever and having learnt only two – admittedly very useful – skills; namely how to block a right hook and how to open beer bottles with my teeth. (Yep, “education” courtesy of the States of Jersey.)”
6: Parallel Universes: 19th February, 2008.
Regular readers will be familiar with the storm of “outrage” that greeted my attempt to deliver a Christmas speech in the island’s parliament at the end of 2007.
As, bizarrely enough, ‘Father of the House’, it falls to me to lead off the customary end of year Christmas greetings.
Back then, by the end of 2007, Jersey knew it faced coming to terms with a monstrous and systemic decades-long failure to protect vulnerable children from harm and abuse. So – in my naivety – I thought the Christmas speech would be an apposite opportunity for the first ever expression of recognition and empathy towards though who had suffered abuse in Jersey.
Though – with hindsight – not really a mistake – as the resultant “performance” by the States of Jersey speaks more powerfully of its ethical and intellectual bankruptcy than anything I could write.
Here is a little of my recollections of the day my speech caused the meeting of the island’s parliament to be adjourned in chaos:
“The speech I was attempting to give was the first time ever a member of the States of Jersey had stood to acknowledge what had taken place, to publicly accept culpability on the part of the island’s authorities. It was the first time ever an elected member had attempted to express recognition of, and compassion towards, the many generations of abuse survivors.
Naturally, faced with this first ever acknowledgment of abuse victims by an elected member, the Jersey parliament disgraced itself.
As I remarked in an earlier post, my strongest memory of that day is standing at my desk as most members milled around, hurrying off to their Christmas Lunch – from which I had so rudely detained them – and looking around the States chamber and experiencing the sensation that I was swimming across a lake of vomit.
As I began to gather my papers – still trying to grasp – still trying to reconcile – the conduct of States members, with my recent memory of listening to two tearful victims of abuse recount their experiences, Deputy Peter Troy, one of the members who had barracked me and led the mob-rule which saw my microphone being cut, came around the chamber and confronted me where I stood at my desk.
At this instant I had an image in my mind’s eye of these two now adult victims – brother and sister, whose mother had died of cancer when they were little children – embracing tearfully at the memory of what they had suffered for all those years in a States of Jersey “group-home”.
I did seriously consider punching Deputy Troy – I clenched my fist and raised it a little – but I didn’t actually swing for him.
You see, my seat is in the back row, so with the wall right behind me, I couldn’t have got sufficient arc and power into a hook, and my desk stood between him and me, precluding effective uppercuts.
The thought did occur to me later that, as I was wearing contact lenses and not my glasses, I could of head-butted him – but, hey, you know how it is in the heat of debate – you only think of these things afterwards.”
7: The Horsfall/Walker Years: 22nd February, 2008.
I gave this particular posting the sub-title, “Behind the Curtain of the Wizard of Oz. The Worst Episode of Government in the Entire 800 Year History of Jersey as an Independent Jurisdiction.”
To those unfamiliar with the strange and toxic little world of Jersey politics, Pierre Horsfall and Frank Walker have been the two most recent “Towering Elder Statesmen” to have led Jersey. Both now, mercifully, retired were garlanded with oligarchy propaganda to the effect that both were wise, intellectual, well-informed individuals – people who grasped the helm of the ship of state – and led us into a secure and comfortable future.
Of course – the diametric opposite is the truth – two greater clowns never staggered across the listing bridge of Jersey politics.
This will give you a flavour of my analysis:
“And, of course, there is another tremendous advantage to my position. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan:
“when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to loose.”
I can, therefore, treat the Jersey oligarchy with all of the cynicism, contempt, insolence and satire it so richly deserves. All these silly little men have no power over me; well, apart from assassination, obviously. And I’m fairly equanimous about that too; if I have to listen to many more speeches by Paul Routier or Mike Vibert – getting whacked with a few rounds from a Glock could begin to seem quite attractive.
But – in public perception – at least on the part of pro-establishment individuals – I remain some kind of toxic reprobate – and my political opponents are the shining beacons of “statesmanship”, Or, at least – that is the mythology.
And in that regard, the Jersey oligarchy – which includes the local media – have been startlingly successful in propagating and maintaining the mythology. I say startlingly successful, because so divorced from facts – from reality – are the accepted assumptions about the Jersey establishment; so wholly divorced from the evidence and consequences we see around us – that it could even be regarded as one of the most successful propaganda exercises in any post-World War II democracy.
Let’s just take a look at a few of those myths; and there are many more which I will, maybe, address in later posts.
1: “Jersey has customarily been well-governed; marvellously so; in a way that party-political jurisdictions can only dream of.”
2: “Jersey has been governed with tremendous economic competence and foresight. Public finances have been well-managed – as could only be achieved by politicians who are experienced businessmen.”
3: “Jersey has been immensely fortunate in always having amongst its politicians, the necessary high-calibre, business-minded ‘Elder Statesmen’ needed to lead the key government functions, such as managing public finances and producing effective taxation and economic policies. People who have used their tremendous wisdom and foresight to guide this community to a secure and happy future.”
4: “Anyone who challenges the above nostrums is a dangerous threat to society.”
So, as the “threat to society” de jour – accompany me as I rip back the curtain – like in the Wizard of Oz – to reveal hiding behind it the weak, frightened, bumbling and vacuous little men desperately trying to work the apparatus.
Step forward Pierre Horsfall and Frank Walker.”
8: Suffer the Little Children: 24th February, 2008.
Re-reading many of my entries is actually a painful experience. For as much as we might try and take some grim humour from the day-to-day absurdities of politicians and money-men – some subjects confront us with the awful reality of certain disasters.
This was one of the many postings I wrote concerning the Jersey Child Abuse Disaster:
“Can the polity of Jersey learn its lessons – and change?
I hope so.
But I fear not.
Even today – Jersey’s political leader, Senator Frank Walker – still fails to grasp the horrifying magnitude of what has taken place – and what it says about our government.
So divorced from any grasp of the truth – of reality – is this man, that he accuses me of making this disaster a ‘political’ issue.
This is the diametric opposite of the truth – as is shown by the evidence.
As the facts show – it was no decision, or wish of mine, to make this tragic and wretched episode a “political” matter.
That decision was his and that of his Council of Ministers. It was theirs alone – when they decided to have me sacked for whistle-blowing – and the heinous “offence” of “Undermining Staff Moral”.
That is what actually happened. It is well-evidenced.
Yet here is Jersey’s political leader still demonstrating a truly startling aversion to the facts – the truth.
When this is the culture of power in Jersey; when our “leaders” can so blithely turn away from the documented facts – can we really assume child protection to be safe and reliable today – in our island?
I don’t believe we can. For until the island’s establishment begin to understand the importance of the truth – of honesty – of the acknowledgment of things which have gone wrong – we are forced to assume that the culture of cover-up and concealment remains.”
9: Of Millstones and Secret Reports: 27th February, 2008.
No review of my output could be complete without reference to my very good friends at Jersey’s only “newspaper”, the Jersey Evening Post. I’m happy to report that my description of the said journal, simply as The Rag, appears to have taken root.
Back when I wrote this particular posting – I hadn’t figured out how to post the scanned copy of the secret report in question.
Happily, one of my regular readers, Computer Nerd, did it for me – and there is now a permanent link to the Sharp Report in my links list on the right.
I strongly recommend that you read it – if you haven’t done already.
Read it – and remember it – next time you hear the Jersey oligarchy claiming that the island has sought to protect children in recent times – and any abuses “must have happened long ago – back when standards were different”.
Sadly – many of the ethically bankrupt maggots responsible for this particular long-term, pro-active concealment of child abuse remain in and around the upper-reaches of the Jersey establishment.
For that fact – the oligarchy’s media did all they could to burry the scandal:
“I have said publicly that the Jersey media are actually a part of the problem – a component in the cover-ups and concealment.
Consider the Jersey Evening Post, for example. Today I explained to the national press how I had leaked a copy of the confidential Sharp report to the Jersey Evening Post in the year 2000. They were very keen to get hold of a copy at that time – so when I gave the editor, Chris Bright, the deputy editor Rob Shipley, and the reporter, Dian Simon a copy of the report – face-to-face – in the JEP offices – I expected them to run a series of detailed articles.
The report is so damning – so apocalyptically bad – that no respectable newspaper would get a document like this and not run it.
The JEP didn’t print a single sentence from the report.
They attempt to defend themselves from my criticisms in Tuesday’s edition of The Rag.
It is truly pathetic stuff. But setting aside that which is merely lame in their response – let us instead look at a simple lie told by Rob Shipley – and one, incidentally, echoed by BBC Jersey and Channel Television.
So shamed – so embarrassed – are the Jersey media, at what is clearly an almost unbelievable failure of journalistic ethics and integrity – that even now, they can’t face the truth.
Shipley – like BBC Jersey and Channel Television – have asserted that they didn’t bother running the report story, back in 2000 – because the report had been published already, by the time I gave them a copy.
This is an utter and really quite tragic lie. The report was never “published”; it was guarded like gold-dust by the powers-that-be in Jersey.
It demonstrably was not published. When people like Shipley at the JEP and BBC Jersey and Channel Television casually assert ‘it was published’ – they are simply lying.
The document was Top Secret – because it annihilates the Jersey Establishment.
The JEP recognised this – and being the ‘house-journal’ of the Jersey oligarchy – they buried it.
They buried it to protect the Jersey establishment.”
10: The Truth: 29th February, 2008.
This particular post was written in response to the shameless – and near-total – avalanche of lies churned out by Jersey politicians and their local media.
You will often witness the Jersey oligarchy shrieking in hatred and fear of external media scrutiny – and doing their best to damn the national media – and condemn any Jersey resident who speaks to the nationals as an “enemy within”.
This is because power is absolutely concentrated in Jersey – and to all practical extents, unchallengeable from within the island. So internal dissent, the Jersey oligarchy can crush – but external scrutiny, they have no power over; hence the naked terror the Jersey crew always exhibit when faced with real journalists.
The BBC in Jersey “went native” many years ago – to an extent and degree that one struggles to find any more fitting word to describe it than “corrupt”.
Happily, the BBC at a regional and national level retains its integrity. And back in February, 2008, the BBC showed two TV documentaries which revealed the truth.
The facts as revealed in these documentaries were well-established on the basis of hard, documented evidence – and in particular – powerful witness testimony of survivors themselves.
Essentially – the exact type of material all of the local media flatly refused to use – indeed, still refuses to use – to this day.
And in case you consider my condemnation of the collection of clowns who run BBC Jersey to be too harsh – just reflect on this: the “leadership” of the BBC in Jersey pro-actively attempted to get those early BBC TV programs spiked – and having failed to do so – then quite deliberately and pro-actively did all they could to minimise any publicity for the broadcasts amongst BBC Jersey’s output.
Anyway – this is a quote from the posting in question:
“Sorry, I just haven’t had time to write a detailed account of today’s forthcoming TV documentary.
In essence, the spin of the Jersey establishment has been to claim that there have been no cover-ups; the any serious incidents of abuse were a long time ago at a long since closed institution.
They also claim that I had provided them with “no evidence”.
Essentially – the line of the Jersey oligarchy is:
“Yes, abuse has happened here – as it does in every community, and we will bring the guilty to justice. But it is untrue to say that there are any fundamental structural failings in Jersey’s system of government and its public administration.
The case exposed in the BBC film tonight destroys that argument.
Systemic cover-ups – concealment – appaling abuse – torture – sexual assault.
All documented in evidence – and most powerfully – the direct testimony of the victims.
Watch the truth.
Tonight – BBC 1 southwest regions. 7.30. ‘Inside-out’.
Sunday – a further program: 12.30, southwest regions part of the ‘Politics Show’.
Please watch – we owe it to the victims.”
So – that’s a brief review of the first two months of the existence of this blog. Like I said – I’ll try and do reviews of the remainder of 2008 as time permits.
What of the coming year?
Well – reviewing my writings, I can see that certain improvements need to be made.
For example – I’ve been far too circumspect and “polite” in dealing with the decadent accretion of crooks, clowns and grifters that forms the Jersey oligarchy.
So – my resolution for 2009?
No more mister nice guy.