Friday, 12 August 2011

Fetch The Engine

People got angry and stole things. Shortest version of that story ever to be told, I bet.

Watching Question Time last night was an interesting experience - David Davis was great, Camila Batshitomiddjalilipicalilliexpialidocious was utterly ridiculous, as per, and John Prescott looked as if he was ready to have a heart attack at any moment. Listening to them squabbling about which government was responsible, however, was pathetic. Utterly absurd. These people didn't loot because of politics or because many of them had fewer opportunities than others; indeed, the vast majority of people in exactly the same situation didn't loot or riot, and actively defended their communities and condemned the actions of the looters. The reason for the violence is pure and simple: they're absolute cretins; they wouldn't recognise a political point if it hit them in the face, branding their faces with the words "This is a political point". That's all I'm going to say on the matter here.

For those of you who care, I'm still in Frankfurt and am working bizarre non-hours. 2 days a week, 4 hours at a time, either very early in the morning or late in the evening. It's not massively exciting, but it's nearly over.



Thursday, 4 August 2011

Review - "The Ledge"

Today I'm going to do something a little different: a film review. Why, I hear you ask? Well, it's a film about which I had heard a lot and of which I had very high hopes, but sadly it did not meet these expectations.

"The Ledge" is a film written and directed by Matthew Chapman and features as its protagonist an atheist, which is how I came to hear about it. From what I had been told, the film dealt with secular morality, love, loss and good, old-fashioned debating. And it did. Sort of. It had lots of debating - he debated his gay flatmate about his desire to remain connected to the Jewish faith; he debated the fundamentalist Christian with whose wife he was trying to do the dirty; he even debated with the aforementioned wife. The problem was, these debates were the most inorganic conversations I have ever come across in a serious film: they were as artificial as American cheese and as nuanced as a Glenn Beck rally. Furthermore, some Christians have complained that the film used a caricature of a fundamentalist instead of presenting a realistic image of a devout believer; while part of me wants to tell them they're idiots and to get over it, they sort of have a point. While each individual action the character took was in isolation consistent with a fundamentalist Christian, the entire package felt somewhat...unrealistic. By the time the film had reached its dramatic climax (n.b. it wasn't very dramatic), I no longer cared what happened. It had become a bit silly.

My second objection was to the question posed by the fundamentalist to the atheist, "Would you die for your beliefs?", as if this were somehow a valid question. Yet (wait for it), the atheist actually said that he probably would. Quod the proverbial fuck? Life is far too precious to die for the lack of a belief in a deity, and to potentially throw it away for the sake of scoring a cheap point over a deranged lunatic seems a tad...irrational for someone who claims to be a bastion of logic and reason. So yes, that bit didn't ring true either.

To be fair, it was always going to be ground-breaking, and these things certainly take time. I credit Chapman for his idea, but the actual filmcraft left a lot to be desired.

Big love,


Friday, 29 July 2011


11 days have passed since I reported the anticlimax that was my leaving State Street, and the new job is up and running, albeit at a dangerously early time in the morning in uncomfortable shoes. Cue sore feet and bleariness. Every cloud though - I usually finish work between 12 and 2, meaning I have the afternoon to catch up on some sleep. So yes, life here is somewhat different from 2 weeks ago, but that's not necessarily a terrible thing.

Regarding the Norway incident, did anyone notice how the term "terrorist" wasn't used at all by the media. You see, we must now reserve the word for Muslims, because they're the only ones who can be terrorists. Forget Oklahoma; forget the IRA; forget ETA; forget every Christian, Hindu, Jewish and secular terrorist attack and remember that terrorists can only be representing Islam. If you don't believe this, you're obviously part of the problem and are too tolerant of Islam in our glorious Western culture. Or something like that. The most important thing to do, of course, is to panic. That is pivotal. Panic and run. Shoot your local corner shop owner. Lynch a Pakistani boy. Burn a turban, even though they belong to a Sikh, because hey, they all look a bit similar, don't they?

Or we could finally address the extreme right wing in this country - being intolerant of intolerance is not intolerance. Hate speech legislation is a tricky business, mainly because it can curtail freedom of speech, but to quote Matt Dillahunty, our beliefs inform our actions and actions affect others. By all means rally against Islamic doctrine, but do so consistently. Rally against Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Scientology, Raelian and Mormon doctrine, because a fanatical belief in the supernatural can manifest itself in dangerous ways. The important thing though is to criticise the belief and not tar every adherent with the same brush. The word "terrorist" should not be synonymous with "Islam" - imagine the fuss the Christian right would kick up if terrorism and Christianity were inherently linked. It could so easily be done as well, because at the core of both is an irrational belief that demands servitude to a malevolent, celestial dictator.

On a lighter note, I'm delighted to see Stuart Broad hitting his straps again. I've been less-than-complimentary about him at times, but he's certainly stood up and made his presence felt. More of the same please.

Peace x

Monday, 18 July 2011

Interoperem and the Tabloids

One internship down, one job to go. Finishing work on Friday was quite possibly the most anticlimactic thing I've ever done, but I wouldn't have it any other way. A brief handshake with my supervisor/colleague and a quick word to the HR lady and I was out of there. It was as if I had never been - fine by me. If working in Luxembourg last year established the idea that I don't want to work in investment banking, working in Frankfurt cemented it. The people were nice, but they certainly seemed to hate their job and I don't want to become them in a few years time.

Alors, I have an interview with a hotel tomorrow, so hopefully that'll give me some extra cash to survive here, thus enabling me to pay my ridiculously overpriced rent.

My apologies that this isn't a particularly interesting post, but nothing of any interest has been happening in the world. Well, it might have been, but none of us would have heard about it because the media has suddenly become obsessed with Rupert Murdoch and phone-hacking. My attitude towards this is the same as it was during the whole Andy Gray debacle - we all knew Murdoch and Brooks were conniving little shits before this happened, so why are we surprised? Get over it and start talking about things that matter. This wouldn't have happened if it hadn't been Milly Dowler who was hacked - the tabloid press have an almost Diana-esque love of this girl and I find it highly hypocritical of them to suddenly be outraged about something that they wouldn't have given a shit about had it not been MD.

Dear tabloids: you have vilified journalists, MPs, doctors, pilots and pretty much every profession under the sun at some point. There is a reason for this: we are all human. Our pre-frontal lobes are too small; our adrenal glands are too large: we are poorly-evolved apes who are trying to make our way in the world as best we can. Latching onto some people as pariahs and some as martyrs is a vulgar, unnecessary thing to do - nobody is perfect, least of all you.

Apart from that, all is well.


Charlie x

Sunday, 10 July 2011

2 in 6 days? Dear Oh Dear...

Writing this on a very humid Sunday evening in July, it suddenly hits me that I am theoretically going to be unemployed in a week unless one of my leads/contacts comes back to be sharpish. Having tried to organise a job at the InterContinental in Frankfurt, I was put in touch with the HR lady, sent three separate emails asking her about the interview procedure etc and have still had nothing back – something which seems odd for a job which I had effectively been offered. Therefore, if she doesn’t respond, other avenues may have to be explored pretty soon. Calling her seems out of the question as well, seeing as, “Hi, I’m the guy whose emails you’ve been ignoring” is never a good way to start a conversation regarding a potential job.

German bouncers are no nicer than English ones, it transpires. While waiting for entry to some bar/club in East Frankfurt, I was unceremoniously shoved out of the way by a stocky chap with obvious self-esteem issues. After my (surprisingly polite, given the circumstances) inquiry as to why he had taken such a course of action, he responded by saying that I was “in his way”. Naturally I proceeded to ask why he had been unable to merely ask that I move – something which I would have gladly done – but he seemed unimpressed with my irrepressible logic. It’s times this those when I wish I were Dexter Morgan.

Nothing much to report elsewhere really – I’m pretty delighted that the News of the World is being scrapped, but I somehow doubt it’ll stick. Murdoch knows how to cater to the masses (the trick is to give them breasts, large headlines, beer adverts and sloppy, hysterical journalism) so he’ll be back before we know it with another typically vulgar tabloid. How someone can own both The Times and The Sun is somewhat beyond me – it just sounds dangerously paradoxical.

Has anyone else wondered why there were so many Canadians protesting Prince and Princess whatserface while they were out there? It’s on the same level as protesting against turbot, or a minor cast member of Midsomer Murders – completely inconsequential.

Charlie x

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Let’s Do This Equality Thing Properly

Given the recent eruptions in the sceptical/atheist community after Rebecca Watson’s vlog discussing her experience with a male “admirer” who propositioned her in a lift at 4am after she had given a talk about women and sexism in the atheist movement, I thought it only right that I should throw my twopence-worth into the proverbial hat. Richard Dawkins responded, dismissing her concerns by comparing the situation to the atrocities committed against women every day all over the world, to which there was the inevitable backlash from feminists and (most notably from my perspective) PZ Myers and the Pharyngulites (no, they’re not a band – links will be provided at the bottom). While I hesitatingly agree with Dawkins’ comments, insofar as there are probably more important things for the movement to be worrying about, his tone was overly-dismissive and misrepresented Watson’s actual attitude to the whole affair. 

Nobody should have to walk the streets or stay in a hotel and fear being raped, attacked or unwelcomingly approached – that should really go without saying. What I do object to though, is the automatic assumption that all men are prospective rapists until proven otherwise. Agreed, the stakes are certainly higher for women in these situations, but “innocent until proven guilty” exists as a legal norm for a reason. The actions of the man in the hotel were not intelligent; he should really have known better than to proposition a total stranger at 4am after she had said she was going to bed, but neither should he be condemned as a pervert or potential rapist. He clearly misjudged the situation and, given the backlash over the last few days, probably regrets immensely an action which he at the time probably thought was perfectly innocent. Understandably to Watson, it was not considered as such, but let’s not be too hasty to turn this chap into a pariah.

Which brings me to Pharyngula. Needless to say, there was a split between the unfortunate number of raging misogynists who thought that they had the right to proposition women whenever they damn well please and the ardent feminists, who reserved the right to consider every man they meet a potential aggressor. In this case, however, the answer is somewhere in the middle. There are misogynists wherever you go, no matter how socially unacceptable such an attitude is in this day and age, so it is disappointing to see some of the outrageous comments that were being sent Watson’s way. However, I resent the notion that all men somehow have “a lot to learn” about these matters – I am not a child and I know how to act accordingly. Just because one tosser made a mistake and a few internet trolls decided to jump on the bandwagon does not mean that all men are predatory adolescents who can’t control their hormones. Most of us care deeply about women’s rights, want genuine equality, want to break every glass ceiling that we encounter and want to live in a world where people are judged by their character and not by their reproductive organs. Yes we often encounter obstacles, but we are your colleagues, your boyfriends, your husbands and your friends. We are not your enemy; let’s ditch this “us versus them” attitude on both sides and start working together properly. Only then can society truly progress.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Tuesday Morning - What Fun

It would appear that I’m writing this blog post at work as I have been given nothing to do this morning. Ergo I am being productive, albeit in a slightly different way.

Re German life, I got to pay for the privilege of being blind for an hour, as part of something called “Dialog im Dunkeln”. Basically we were led around in total darkness by a blind man in order to experience first-hand what it’s like to be blind. I must say I quite enjoyed it once, despite it being a somewhat bizarre concept on reflection. Apart from that, life here is as per, so I shan’t bore you with further details of it.
I shall, however, attend to a few sundry matters while I have the time to do so. Despite being a staunch opponent of the Mexican Wave, it did amuse me to see Prince William and Princess Whatserface partake in one during their gracing of Centre Court yesterday. It must be a tricky conundrum for old Bill; if he doesn’t take part, he’s seen as being out-of-touch with the people; yet if he does, he’s actively contributing to the deterioration of society as we know it by condoning people’s frightening appalling attention span by joining in. This is Wimbledon after all.

During one of my boredom-at-work-induced forays into the depths of the internet the other day, I stumbled across a post by Jacob Fortin wherein his site is assaulted by Flat Earthers. They even have a site of their own (link provided at the bottom), in which the first FAQ is “Is this a joke”. Surely you must twig that something’s amiss if that is your most oft-received question? Apparently not…

That’s all from me today,

Charlie x