Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bitches, Hoes and Health Reform

In the music world there hasn't been such an insightful criticism of gubernatorial policy since renown poltical thinkers Wham highlighted the pitfalls of the benefits system in "Wham Rap"

I ain't never gonna work,
get down in the dirt
I choose to cruise
Gonna live my life, sharp as a knife
I've found my groove, and I just can't lose
A1 style from head to toe
cool cat flash, gonna let you know
I'm a soul boy, I'm a dole boy
Take pleasure in leisure I believe in joy

Wise words indeed.

It's been a long time coming and you may not have thought it possible but a new artist is vying for their satirical crown.

The guy is M.C. Nxtgen, AKA Sean Donnely a binman from Loughborough who felt angry enough to highlight coaliton plans to move large swathes of the NHS into the private sector buy create a rap song about it. What moved him to lyricise?

"I've got close people, family and friends, who want to work in the NHS in the future, they're worried. I've never been political at all, I don't know much about politics, but I just went on the internet and researched it."

Here is a sample of his diatribe.

Health minister, I mean sinister
You know the public will finish ya
Is your brain really that miniture?
Your full of crap, give yourself an enema

Andrew Lansley gets a verbal beat down as he is accused of having a face like a scrotum, being an old codger, fraud, taking money from big businesss and flipping his second home. MC Nxtgen is up to 170000 hits on YouTube and even the health minister has heard his rap. Imagine hearing you have a face like a ball bag? Devastating.

Whilst his flow is not quite in Eminem's class you have got to take your hat off to the guy. Its catchy and you can't argue with the content.

All together now!

Andrew Lansley greedy Andrew Lansley TOSSER!

Monday, 28 March 2011

The millions against the millionaires

In the cold light of Monday morning as the graffiti is being washed off store fronts and the debris swept up around central London it is hard to establish exactly what was achieved in this weekends demonstrations.

Anti-cut, anti-capitalist and anarchist groups got together to vent their collective anger at the spending cuts that are starting to impact the lives of Joe Public in a big way.

The bulk of protestors were TUC affiliated public sector workers quite rightly shitting themselves at the thought having to watch a lifetime of Loose Women and Cash in The Attic repeats after they get made redundant in a few months time.

UK-Uncut joined the party to stage a series of direct-action sit ins in an effort to highlight the widespread tax avoidance scams purportrated by big business. They took over Fortnum and Masons (a place that makes Waitrose look like Lidl), sang some songs and accidentallty knocked over a basket of chocolates. They picked them up.

Lastly came the knuckle dragging morons with no real agenda to speak of apart from "smashing the system". They probably have never worked a day in their miserable lives who basically used the demo as an excuse to cause as much damage as possible before shuffling back to their halls of residence, bedsits and parents houses. To make it worse their mess has to be cleaned up using taxpayers money. Oh, the irony.

All this jumping up and down and for what? Despite the reported half million people in attendance , the 84 reported injuries and the 200+ arrests Vince Cable says it is business as usual.

The people have spoken, Cable says he is listening but the voices seem to go through one ear and out the other.

"No government,coalition, Labour or any other, would change its fundamental economic policy simply in response to a demonstration of that kind."

There is a real feeling of inequality in the UK at the moment. People are not happy that they are losing their jobs, having their services cut and paying more tax for the priveledge. The public feel there is one rule for the rich and another for the "little people" who should sit there and take their medicine quietly and without a fuss.

Why are the banks not contributing a larger percentage to undo the deficit that they helped to create? Why is big business allowed to "avoid" tax and allowed to pay a fraction of what they should compared to working stiffs? Why are hard working nurses being made redundant when oil companies post record profits?

I am not a socialist but its seems the capitalist model is looking seriously flawed right now and is too skewed in favour of big business. In the same way they benefit when times are good they need to contribute when times are bad. If that means paying higher tax for a set period then so be it.

The general public can only take being shafted when they are thrown a few crumbs. In this age of austerity the " we are all in this together" mantra is beginning to sound laughable.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

War..Huh..Good God Y'all

Another year another war to get stuck into. Would David Cameron have believed less then a year ago that he would follow the disastrous escapades in Iraq and Afganistan with further carnage in the Middle East. Lets face it, there is nothing like a juicy war to take our minds of the economic meltdown in the West.

It's not just the collosal waste of money, our interventionalist mentality and the potential deaths to innocent civilians that bothers me. No, what pisses me off the most is the patronising tone from the likes of Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama who treat the public like gullible fools.

Cameron bleats on about not tolerating the use of military force against its own people. Whilst no one can deny Gaddafi is a nutcase and that crushing peaceful protest with military muscle is disgraceful lets us not pretend that the West is some altrusitic white knight riding over the horizon to protect all those who are desperate and downtrodden. We are only getting involved because it is in the WEST's interest to do so. To suggest otherwise would be incredibly naive.

After all, on the day what the UN authorised a no-fly zone in Libya 40 civilians were killed by US drone attack in Waziristan and a further 40 anti-goverment protestors were gunned down in Yemen. This week in Bahrain reformist protestors have been beaten and killed and their camps burnt to the ground by Saudi troops called in by the Bahraini government desperate to keep the status quo. Let's not go into what is going on in Zimbabwe, Sudan, North Korea or China at the moment.

Does the "free world" rush out to get UN resolutions to put an end to these repressive regimes and install democracy in those countries? Of course we don't. Those countries are either too powerful, have nothing that we want or are our buddies so why should we give a shit about their citizens?

Let's be honest for once. The oil dependant West cannot afford an unstable middle-east. Libya is of vital stategic importance in the Meditteranean and has one of the largest oil fields in the world. With the price at the pumps going through the roof and certain parties keen on keeping a closer eye on it's friend Israel the West needs to quickly crack down on the instability in this area.

Gaddafi has outlived his usefulness. We befriended him when he was repressing his people and they had the good grace to keep their mouths shut. Now the people are revolting he is like an embarrassing relative at a party who puts his arm around you whilst making loud sexist remarks about his wife. We just can't wait to get rid of him.

If I was feeling mischievious I might be tempted to suggest that there is good money to be made in rebuilding countries torn apart by war. Not only do the armed forces justify their budgets and their existance but as evidenced in Iraq a whole raft of private contractors with dubious links to the powers that be can make hay out of the destruction. We are always there to sell them the weapons and can get another pay day when we go in and put it all back together again.

Whatever the reasons do not fall for the phoney democracy agenda peddled by the West. War. What is it good for? Absolutley nothing. Say it again.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Are the Japanese the future of mankind?

I have often wondered in my contemplative moments what would happen in the UK if food and fuel became scarce as a result of some apocalyptic disaster. Would the traditional Britsh stiff upper lip hold firm with everyone sharing what they had and standing in orderly lines for essential supplies or would we slowly tear each other limb from limb or sell our grandmothers for a couple of Mars Bars and Cup-a-Soup?

I suggest the latter.

Despite what David Cameron would have you believe there is no big society anymore. Gone are the days of rosy-cheeked neighbours rallying around in traditional Dunkirk spirit with everyone pulling together to get through the tough times. As evidenced by the fuel protests of 2000 where motorists rushed to the pumps filling up any container they had as soon as there was a whiff of a shortage, when the going gets tough people are out for themselves to hoard as much as they can.

It's not just the U.K who has this "I'm alright Jack" attitude. Last year there was mass looting in Chile after the earthquake caused a shortage of supplies and resulted in troops having to be called in to restore order. After Hurricane Katrina, Nola residents had to defend their shops and houses at gunpoint from marauding scavenegers out to rob and loot whatever they could get their hands on.

It is with this in mind that I am amazed at the japanese reaction to the tsunami related devastation. Yes, their homes have been torn to pieces. Yes , there is a shortage of rice, bread, milk and other essentials. Yes, it is the biggest disaster to hit Japan since WWII.

Yet, despite all this, there is no looting.

On the contrary, supermarkets are cutting prices to help those most at need and vending machine owners are giving out free drinks to those who have nothing. Volunteers are shifting aid supplies into designated areas rather than nabbing them for themselves and running off into the sunset. The Japanese don't do what comes naturally to the rest of civilised society an opt to work together in order to survive.

The lack of looting says a lot about the Japanese people. It seems they have sense of solidarity and self-sacrifice that is laregly absent from most developed nations. You only need to look at the traditional cultural practice of seppuku or hari-kiri where people would rather kill themselves then lose honour and embarrass themselves or their family. Japanese people care a lot about how they look in public and would be mortified if their reputation was tarnished by a spot of thievery even in extremis.

Their exemplary behaviour make the rest of civilised society look pretty shamefaced in comparison.

If mankind is ever going to make it through the dual challenges of the modern population explosion and the growing impact of global warming we are all going to have to take a leaf out of Japan's book.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Film Review - Rango

Movie studios are not stupid. After years of having to sit through Disney mush like Snow White or 101 Dalmatians they are finally wise to the fact that given the option parents are much more inclined to plump for films that kill two birds with one stone; entertaining the "olds" whilst keeping their little angels/shits quiet.

Hot on the heels of Up and Toy Story 3, superb animations with moving adult themes, Rango is another computer generated masterpiece squarely aimed at the parents rather then the kids.

Directed by Gore Verbinski reprising his Pirates of The Caribbean relationship with Johnny Depp, Rango is an animated western in the classic Sergio Leone mold albeit one awash with film references and sprinklings of surealism that are way over the head of your average 6 year old.

Rango (Depp) is a chameleon with an existential crisis who gets stranded in the Mojave desert. After traipsing through the wilderness he comes across the dusty frontier town of Dirt populated by a rag-tag bunch of animals with problems of their own. They are running dangerously low on water and Rango as the stranger in town, in an effort to ingratiate himself witht he townsfolk sees a chance to reinvent himself as rooting, tooting gunslinger when their last reserves are stolen. Of course Rango is way out of his league but manages to bumble his way through in a typical fish out of water style. Think City Slickers meets Chinatown meets A Man With No Name meets Madagascar.

Make no mistake; Rango is a visual feast. Characters are anthropomorphic treats and the scenery is jaw-droppingly detailed. It is a testament to the technical know-how of the guys at Industrial Light and Magic (Lucasfilms team behind Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park in their first totally animated feature) that to call Rango a cartoon is akin to describing Charlie Sheen as simply "high spirited".

From the trippy dream sequences of cacti morphing into rattlesnakes to Rango and the gang riding into the glittering sunset over partched landscapes the film's eye popping visuals (True Grit cinematographer Rober Deakins should get a mention here) ensure that this is a film that does not require 3D gimmickery to sell the story.

Stylishly shot action sequences elevate the film way beyond your bog standard children's movie with interesting camera angles and atmospheric silences. The numerous extreme close-ups of the protagonsists echo Leone's spaghetti westerns. A thinly veiled Clint Eastwood cameo credited as "The Spirit of The West" who guides Rango on his quest is Verbinski's further doff of the Leone cap.

The screenplay written by John Logan whose previous work on The Aviator and Last Samurai is more cerebral then expected. It has subtle enviromental overtones with unscrupulous mayor (Ned Beatty) risking the town's existance by diverting the water to nearby Las Vegas to waste on frivolous golf courses and hints at how mankind's exploitation is putting lives at risk. Don't worry, Rango doesn't batter you over the heard with its morals like Avatar. Fun and quirkiness are still the name of the game.

Johnny Depp has built a career playing the eccentric oddball. It is something he does well. He uses his vocal talents to great effect here to create the confused distant reptilian cousin to Capt. Jack Sparrow.

Whilst the film is a superbly crafted it does not have the same emotional pull as Up or Toy Story 3 to elevate it into the Oscar bracket. Perhaps the sequel, Rango Must Die
will have sufficient gravitas to bother the panel.

A damn fine try though and further proof if proof were needed that cartoons ain't just for kids.

7.5 out of 10

Friday, 4 March 2011

You Don't Have To Be Mad To Work Here...But It Helps

Is there are more deluded human being walking the face of the earth then Colonel Gaddafi?

Forget for one minute that he dresses like an elderly version of Michael Jackson crossed with Carmen Miranda the guy runs Charlie Sheen a close second in the blinkered lunacy department.

Fresh from denying that there were any protestors in Libya and that he was "beloved" by is people (although with his accent it actually sounded more like his pebble which would explain more about his demented state of mind) it seems his crackdown on the imaginary dissenters contintued today after loyalist forces were ordered to attack rebels in the city of Zawiya. Reuters report that up to 50 people were killed.

I'm not sure Gaddafi quite understands the meaning when he says

"My supporters would die to protect me".

There doesn't seem to be any resolution on the horizon with Gaddafi not keen on disappearing into the sunset with a truck full of gold like his fellow tryants did in Tunisia.

Gaddafi claims he cannot step down as he has not been elected and has no office to step down from. Kafkaesque logic if ever I heard it. Couple that with Gaddafi's own son Saif al-Islam waving a gun around and urging supporters to sacrifice themselves

"until the last bullet"

and it makes you wonder how long the bloodshed is going to last for.

Of course Whitehall is quick to condemned Gaddafi as a vicious tyrant who must go now but they seem to have all been struck by a collective amnesia.

It is not so long ago that very own emissary of death, Tony Blair, brought Gaddafi in from the cold despite his repeatedly funding terrorist organisations, his hand in the Lockerbie bombing and the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher during the Libyan Embassy siege.

Any right thinking person would question the motives of bringing a tyrannical terrorist with form into the fold. But, dear naive reader you are forgetting one thing. Libya has barrels and barrels of delicious oil.

Not just that but after the Scottish goverment were lent on by Blair and dubiously released Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie murderer, on medical grounds (he had 6 months left to live yet was embarrassingly seen swanning around the golf course after his release) British businesses such as Shell, Marks & Spencer and assorted arms dealers suddenly found the cookie jar had opened up to them and all are doing a brisk trade in Libya thank you very much.

As recently as January 28, the Government’s UK Trade and Investment body trumpeted ‘business opportunities in Libya’amazingly admitting that

"...if we were only to do business with decent, democratic regimes, Britain would lose a lot of its trade."

The genie is well and truly out of the bottle and it seems there is no such thing as ethical trading when it comes to the hypocrites that run this country. If there is something in it for us there is no murderous scumbag we won't kowtow to if it is going to make us a few quid.

Perhaps there are some people in the UK who are equally as delusional as Gaddafi. Unfortunately they are running the country for the foreseeable future.