Conformity is the new rebellion

14 Dec

I am normally very careful about maintaining a neutral (as is possible) standpoint and not loudly expressing my political beliefs because I have a strong aversion to preachers, of all types, who try to force their opinion upon everyone else. But today I didn’t feel like keeping quiet any more, as a bigger concern has arisen.
My concern today is of these self-righteous pseudo-revolutionaries who feel the need to suffocate everyone with questionable (and, at times, outright biased) information about, well, something. If one more person starts spouting hypocritical drivel about ‘the Revolution’, I am going to hurl a political economics textbook at their head, politely suggesting that they read it.
So why do I feel the need to suddenly put my metaphorical foot down on this matter?
I’ll tell you why.
What is irksome about these characters is their need for what I call fear-mongery, usually in reference to the abstract, shadowy monolith they call the system (whatever that is). Their attempt to inspire fear into ordinary citizens makes these people just as bad as the governments, corporate elites, and the mass media to which they are so opposed. If there is to be social change (toward the infamous Revolution) bullying or frightening people into it is wholly contradictory to the ideology on which such a Revolution rests.
Secondly, these people seem to be anti-everything, but fail to suggest any kind of alternative. Let’s take capitalism, for example. There is certainly no shortage of anti-capitalist rhetoric among the pseudo-revolutionaries, yet they have not been able to come up with a viable solution. British economist John Kay articulated this point brilliantly in his book The Truth about Markets;

On May day 2001, demonstrators gathered in London to denounce the American business model. Among the mob which had thrown stones at every opportunity from the storming of the Bastille in 1789 to the siege of Genoa in 2001 were also sandal-wearing, bicycling protestors who wished the world were a better place. One carried a placard: “Capitalism should be replaced with something nicer.” The slogan captures the incoherence of modern anti-capitalism. It is clear what the demonstrators are against, but not what they are for.
(Kay, 2004: pp. 323-324)

Incidentally, for those who are interested, Kay goes on to discuss an alternative within capitalism itself.
What are they suggesting? Perhaps Communism? Have they considered Fascism? The Nazis were, after all, extremely effective with German economic reform in the late inter-war years, all but eliminating unemployment in the country and creating jobs for between 6 and 7 million Germans. I am, of course, being hyperbolic. However, I can’t help but see chilling parallels between the current Revolution rhetoric and that of, say, the Bolsheviks of Russia in 1917. The Bolshevik, or, October Revolution, as I’m sure you are aware, gave rise to Leninism and Soviet Russia. And I’d better not mention the Bolshevik named Joseph Stalin. Hopefully, you can see the danger of such rhetoric, and the reason for my concern.

Finally, my concern lies with the pseudo-revolutionary’s desire to appoint themselves as some kind of leader of the Revolution and make decisions on behalf of everyone else. I don’t mean to be rude, but, I didn’t vote for you, or anyone in your Revolution band camp, so why are you making decisions on my behalf?

My point is, that I in fact find all of this a tragedy. I am in full support of social mobilisation in a positive direction, and I don’t like the ethics surrounding laissez-faire capitalism. But I am also pro-solution, not pro-making-the-problem-worse-with-more-fear. And until the Revolutionary gibberish stops being shoved in my face everywhere I go, I will feel less and less inclined to jump on the bandwagon. Instead, I will become an extreme conformist, or start an arbitrary anti-Revolution, or simply rebel against rebellion. 
Thus, I will go back to my quiet research and study of political and economic matters, in order to become as well informed as I possibly can and, hopefully, counter the detrimental effects of bandwagoning pseudo-revolutionaries.
Sincerely, Bella Lucia (a concerned citizen).

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It’s jolly to have your leg off

20 Mar

Hell0 and welcome to 2012, my name is Bella and I’ll be  your host. Unless, of course, I find something better to do, which is probably quite likely.
It’s been a while! So far this year I have achieved a successful blank spot where January should be (any info on what happened during that month would be lovely), February is a myth and doesn’t exist, and now we find ourselves careering through March like an out of control half-inflated balloon. Sweet Jesus! Time continues to elude me.
For the first time in a long time I’ve actually had an afternoon of nothing to do, so when I suddenly remembered that I have a blog – and after several attempts at guessing my forgotten wordpress password – I came straight here! Although, I think there is a root vegetable where my brain should be so I can’t offer you anything creative at this time. Instead I will offer you an array thoughts that may or may not be relevant to something, which isn’t relevant to anything else, but might end up being relevant after all.

There has been a lot of talk about beards lately, and quite rightly so. The curiously odd Ben Fogle has also been popping up in conversation recently. You remember Ben Fogle? The frightfully well-spoken, yellow floppy-haired presenter from ‘Animal Park’ with an embarrassing habit of demonstrating just how little he knows about animals… “I say, Lord Bath, what’s this snake doing?”… “Uh, Ben, that’s a stick.”
And, of course, the brilliantly weird Lord Bath – owner of Longleat safari park – wearing some crazy patchwork, technicolour robe and a saggy hat, muttering something about needing more ostriches into his food-stained beard (ah yes… beard). Indeed, what a delightful series it was.

Also on the agenda has been the extraordinary concept of operating on a snake. I bring it up in conversation wherever possible (which is actually quite often) and everyone who spends a lot of time in my presence is probably sick of hearing about it. “And now, I’m going to make the incision… all the way down… still going… there we go.”
Think about it.

Another fun conversation topic, as I discovered, is ‘The most awkward thing to find in your bed’. Inevitably, this discussion usually always goes awry and into the realm of “You’re fucking weird, man, get out of my house!”
Still, a lengthy pondering of this question among my friends lead to the conclusive answer of the undeniably creepy Bruce Forsyth. Amazing.

Well, on that note, I’m going to keep this post short as I haven’t had any sleep and am on the edge of losing my mind, hiding under my desk, twitching and muttering incoherently about the consolidation of power in the Iranian conservative regime (for the love of God, don’t ask). So I’m going to leave it here. But first, a big-ups to Vivian Stanshall, because no one knows who he is. I think he is one of the funniest people to ever walk the Earth. I am a huge fan, so check him out.
Peace to all you scallywags out there!

Monthly horoscope December 2011

9 Dec

Aquarius (20 Jan – 19 Feb)
Around the 22nd you are suddenly utterly convinced that you are Jesus Christ and become upset when no one remembers your birthday. Jesus’s birthday wasn’t even on the 25th you idiot!

Pisces (20 Feb – 20 March)
A mushroom will grow on your forehead. They will call you the human fungus so you travel the country reciting poetry.

Aries (21 March – 19 April)
This month, Aries, you join a marching band but get kicked out when you suggest they play some hard progressive acid folk music.

Taurus (20 April – 20 May)
You will get a big cactus for Christmas, but the cactus gets offended when you make it wear a sombrero and name it Mongo. It somehow manages to escape out of an open window. When will you learn??

Gemini (21 May – 20 June)
Broke, depressed and alone, you find some imaginary friends, but lose them because you can’t see them… because they’re imaginary.

Cancer (21 June – 22 July)
You find a lost child in a busy shopping centre this month. The child looks exhausted, malnourished, traumatised and frantically tries to tell you that he is one of Santa’s elves and you must help him escape. You laugh and hand him into the police. Crazy kids!

Leo (23 July – 22 Aug)
In true comedy style you fall into a big pile of rubbish but find an old pogo stick. Soon you will become the national pogo stick champion.

Virgo (23 Aug – 22 Sep)
The turkeys will have revenge on you this Christmas, Virgo. Don’t fuck with the turkeys, man.

Libra (23 Sep – 23 Oct)
An incriminating photo of you is plastered all over facebook. Unable to live with the shame, you change your name and move to Iceland. Iceland’s lovely, actually.

Scorpio (24 Oct – 21 Nov)
You go into hibernation this month. You neighbour steals all of your things and puts them on ebay. No one wants to buy your stuff, so you get it all back in spring.

Sagittarius (22 Nov – 21 Dec)
You were wrong to think I was going to go easy on you this month, Sagittarius. I strongly suggest you drown yourself in a bucket of your own tears.

Capricorn (22 Dec – 19 Jan)
This month, you will get really drunk and lose your shoes. I love it when a story ends with “… And then I lost my shoes!”

 

Vicious torpedo socks

8 Dec

Severe weather warnings issued but vicious man-eating torpedo socks a concern.

Severe weather warnings have been issued in the northern regions of the UK, but concerns over an emerging type of man-eating torpedo sock have been raised.
The vicious socks were first spotted in London last week, according to the BBC.
Eyewitness reports said the torpedo socks were “terrifying” and “definitely man-eating.”
“I don’t know what you’re on about,” says Avon and Somerset police chief constable Bill Maher, 43, from Bedminster, Bristol, “And get off my property, you’re scaring my wife.”
After the anti-social behaviour and public nuisance of swarms of killer death laser-footed bees in 2009, the torpedo socks are an issue the Environment Agency (EA) have put on the ‘critical’ list. The EA was criticised for their handling of the killer death bees, with MPs saying the crisis was not taken seriously or addressed fast enough.
“It’s a real concern.” Says BBC reporter Jane Summers.
The EA issued a statement yesterday stating “Any concerns involving man-eating torpedo socks will be investigated.”
The socks are believed to have originated in student accommodation near South Bank University, London, after the suspicious deaths of three students in September this year.
In response to the crisis the controversial sock activist group Socks’ Rights UK have recommended, “All household socks should be washed at 50 degrees, in order to avoid potential mutation into man-eating torpedo socks.”
“Frankly, the lack of legitimate information and proper sourcing to this article is a bigger concern.” Says journalist Johann Hari, who was recently suspended from national newspaper the Independent for plagiarism.
“I have a perfectly good desk, but I just don’t use it.” Adds author Bella Lucia.

What’s the opposite of occupy?

26 Oct

My face hurts. What day is it? Where are all my things??
I’ve often said that I’ve been lost for years. I say this half joking, but mostly being serious – which isn’t mathematically proficient, but I am allergic to maths (dyscalculiar) so I don’t give a shit. Did you know, for example, that seven and nine are the same number? Any calculation involving seven and nine is improbable to the point of lunacy, and don’t even get me started on the number 79.
Anyway, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on right now and haven’t for quite some time. Any suggestions would be appreciated.  I also haven’t written on this blog thing for ages. Perhaps you thought I had died or been abducted by an outer-planetary species and taken for an intergalactic joyride? Perhaps you had prematurely opened the celebratory champagne and composed an obituary telling the world what a terrible person I was. Well, no; as much as I would like to entertain the idea of intergalactic joyriding – perhaps in a space hot rod and listening to some dope space hip-hop – I am still here, as I always am, and have been for quite some time.

And now, the news:
This week, I’ve been wondering why I can’t wash my clothes at 50 degrees. Every washing machine I’ve ever used mysteriously skips from 40 to 60 degrees. I’ve even tried to jam the dial between the two (just to see) but the washing machine wasn’t having any of it, quietly judging me for attempting and chewing little annoying holes in my clothes as punishment. I suppose it’s not good for my clothes to be washed at 50, which is the reason for this rigidity in washing temperatures, but it would be nice to have a choice.
You’ve probably all heard about the Occupy Wall Street/ Occupy the World movement. Indeed, the movement has been quite a sensation across the globe, sprouting a few saggy tents with demonstrators and cardboard signs baring anti-capitalist slogans here in Bristol. I did pop down there, without a cardboard sign, to have a look and get a feel for the vibe among the participating activists. It was interesting. 
If I were to make an Occupy cardboard sign, mine would say ‘Free country? I can’t even wash my clothes at fifty degrees!’
I’m not being serious, of course. My sign would probably say ‘Occupy your mind’ because I believe that’s where the real change must begin. 

And on that note, I shall get back to my afternoon’s light reading; a casual volume titled ‘The Globalization of World Politics’. I’ll have this chapter finished in no time!

21 Oct

Monthly horoscope, August 2011

1 Aug

Aquarius 20th January – 19th February
Your hopes for finding love and getting married are dashed his month when it gradually dawns on you that you find flowerpots and other gardening implements more attractive than humans. Telling your parents is going to be tricky. Also, be wary of the rake; it will eventually stab you in the back.

Pisces 20th February – 20th March
August looks set to be a good month for you, Pisces. Until around the 18th, when a game of Uno goes horribly wrong. When does a game of Uno not go horribly wrong?

Aries 21st March – 19th April
You get an unexpected phonecall this month. Not that uncommon really, is it?

Taurus 20th April – 20th May
Don’t go outside this month. THEY KNOW! Don’t ask how, just focus on packing a bag and leaving the country via airmail. Don’t forget to put holes in the crate.

Gemini 21st May – 20th June
Remember that thing you’d forgotten? Oh, of course not… never mind.

Cancer 21st June – 22nd July
You make friends with a marching band and they agree to follow you around for thirty days, playing cheery brass-band music theme tunes to your life. August is going to be awesome!

Leo 23rd July – 22nd August
You are overwhelmed by a feeling of paranoia this month, Leo. And so you should be.

Virgo 23rd August – 22nd September
So you’re saving up to by that thing you’ve always wanted? Say goodbye to whatever money is in that ISA account you lovingly set up, because you’re about to get a hefty fine for something that seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s quite a funny story, actually…

Libra 23rd September – 23rd October
You will be mildly alarmed by Bella Lucia’s astronomical predictions. I don’t just make this shit up, you know.

Sagittarius 22nd November – 21st December
I’m holding back on my abuse of Sagittarians this month. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still the human equivalent of a tapeworm! Have a nice month.

Capricorn 22nd December – 19th January
You slip on a banana peel in a truly hilarious fashion. Just kidding, nothing exciting happens for you this month.

Circle Beard

28 Jun

When you have a blog – God forbid! – it can be difficult to avoid the talking about the boring mundane aspects of your everyday life – like the people shuffling around Sainsbury’s in that classic overwhelmed supermarket trance or just how funny I find the concept of a circle beard – so I’m very conscious of keeping things fresh and entertaining.
That said, I have done some relatively interesting things recently:
I can proudly say that I achieved one of my life ambitions this month, and that was to see my favourite band of all time. All my friends are probably sick of hearing about it, because since going to see System of a Down in Berlin that’s all I’ve wanted to talk about. Still, I like to point out the weird and perhaps unnecessary highlights of my days on this Earth, and the weird highlights included being in a sea of people wearing black t-shirts, shouting “BRISTOL!” at inappropriate moments – seemed like a good idea at the time – and after Serj gave an uplifting speech about Germany being the world leader in alternative energy (go Germany!) shouting “YEEEAAH! ALTERNATIVE ENERGY!” and generally jumping around and spilling my beer on the surrounding concert-goers in a drunk and obnoxious fashion. To be honest, I’ve been pretty miserable since being back in Bristol and have only kept myself entertained by listening out for people speaking German and trying to detect German accents while walking down the street, randomly bringing up Berlin in conversation with strangers while I’m at work, riding my bike as fast as possible in an attempt to get a quick fix of excitement, and, of course, listening to System of a Down. But I suppose it’s that ‘the grass is always greener’ complex, and we all seem to go through life at least partially wishing that we were somewhere else. Or perhaps it’s just me who does that?
Perhaps it’s when you realise that you can go anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat. The freedom we have is quite amazing, and when you get a taste of just packing up, talking flight and swooping without prejudice or expectation to a completely new destination and having no real plan, you understand that going with the flow of life is a truly beautiful experience. I think my personality yearns for that spontaneity. I think everyone’s does.
In the meantime, I’m going to find my peace again – continue quietly existing and listening and observing and thinking.

Other memorable quotes from Daron Malakian (Guitar/Vocals) and Serj Tankian (Vocals/keys):
Daron: (During ‘Lonely Day’) “Lonliest isn’t actually a word…”
Serj: “You guys are the loudest singers we’ve ever had!” (Yes, thank you, I helped with that, and I don’t sing in tune because I don’t believe in conforming with the rest)
Daron: (During ‘Lost in Hollywood’ in response to someone doing an epic crowd-surf all the way down the stadium) “You should have never gone to Hollywood… You should have never crowd-surfed in the cheap seats…”
Serj: “Do not follow American foreign Policy!”

A Different Perspective

1 Jun

So I was walking through the park near my house (if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll remember this park from Mutant Laser Death Fish) and got stuck behind a young mum pushing a pram along the path. I was laden with heavy bags of food shopping so didn’t have enough momentum to overtake and therefore settled with plodding along behind her. As we passed the lake, she suddenly steered the pram to the right and casually wheeled it into the lake, briefly glancing to either side before leisurely strolling away in the other direction.
This didn’t actually happen, of course, but that doesn’t stop me from imagining that little scenarios like this happen all the time. It’s only a matter of time before I witness someone falling into the lake, and I very much look forward to when I do.
In other news, I decided to invent a fictional character called Robert Robberson, and write a CV for him. The poor guy has been having some trouble finding work recently so I took it upon myself to adopt his persona and craft a decent Curriculum Vitae:

Robert Robberson.

I stole my first item back in 1999. It was only a packet of Walkers crisps from a Sainsbury’s Local, but from that moment on I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I quickly moved on to stealing hats and scarves from Primark and realised that I have a natural talent for theft, managing to combine the art of being sneaky and deceiving while looking innocent and harmless. In 2003 I happened to meet international criminal mastermind Derren Brown, who took me under his wing and in 2004 offered me an apprenticeship in Trickery and Theft. During the apprenticeship I was able to refine my skills and learned a lot about distracting people and lying about it afterwards. Derren had me thrown in the deep end, as it were, by setting challenging assignments like stealing jackpot-winning lottery tickets from the people who bought them and most of Gordon Brown’s face. Derren also taught me about money laundering, identity theft and how to cheat when gambling, which was fun but my real passion is still theft from shops and homes. My best achievement to date is probably stealing the entire contents of the 23rd floor from The Hilton hotel on Park Lane, London in just two and a half hours.
Recently, I have moved back to petty crime but I am looking for something a bit more challenging, where I can continue to learn and progress, preferably in the Liverpool area. I particularly enjoy grand theft auto and stealing items of high sentimental value. I am cunning, untrustworthy, and I WILL steal your undergarments without you noticing the second you stop paying attention.

References:

Paul Jones, Security Guard at Harrods, London;
I still find it hard to believe that Mr. Robberson stole almost £30,000 worth of stuff from the shop! I would never suspect him of any crime, and I had to watch the in-store CCTV footage to see what had actually been stolen. It doesn’t even really look like him in the tape because he is wearing a clever disguise. Frankly, I’m impressed!

Clive Anderton, home owner, Manchester;
I feel honoured to have been robbed by Mr. Robberson; I only popped out to the shop to get milk and cat food, and returned to my home fifteen minutes later only to find that he had taken absolutely everything, including the cat. To tell you the truth, I didn’t actually realise until I tried to use the toilet and saw that it was missing. I’m fairly sure he also stole my wife, but she might have just wandered off and got run-over again. She’s a bit daft, you see.

“What? I aint stealin’ nuthin’!”

Bella Lucia interview, by Bella Lucia

27 Apr

I met up with Bella Lucia in a rare and exclusive interview to discuss writing, life, and to try to get into the mind of a promising creative talent (if I can call myself that?). Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go according to plan.

Bella Lucia: Thanks for finally meeting up with me, Bella, I know you don’t like doing interviews.
Bella Lucia: Yeah, I really hate interviews. They’re so sterile and forced.
[laughs] Well, I do appreciate it. So first of all, for those readers who might not have heard of you before, you’re a writer, based in Bristol. How would you briefly describe your style of writing?
Quirky. Little bit weird. Sometimes satirical. I just write whatever the fuck I want, really. If I think of something, and it amuses me, I write about it.
That’s cool. And who is your main target audience?
I don’t think too much about target audience. If you think about target audience while you write something, it tends to limit your creativity. But I guess it appeals to mostly people around my age.
And how old are you?
I’ll be twenty-one in June.
So you must have been pretty young when you wrote your novel, ‘That’s the Problem’?
I started writing it when I was sixteen, finished it when I was eighteen.
Yeah, OK. Can you briefly describe your novel for us?
Not really.
[Laughs] I guess you get asked that a lot?
Yeah. That’s why I don’t talk about it all that much, because the question ‘What’s it about?’ inevitably follows the statement ‘Yeah, I wrote a book this one time…’ It’s been described as science-fiction-comedy. Or dystopian fiction. I don’t know. It’s up to the reader to decide.
Cool. And what was the process of writing the book? Did you have a plan or a rough outline?
If I did have a plan, it was a very vague one. I find my stories just write themselves, and I never write a story in order. It took me a long time to figure out what was going to happen at the end as well. It’s all a bit chaotic and disorganised!
[Laughs] There are a lot of questions I want to ask you about your novel, but I’m aware that you’re on a tight time schedule, so I’m going to move on…
Sure.
So tell me about your blog, what’s the deal there?
What do you mean? It’s just a blog. A collection of my work and thoughts and observations about my daily life.
Right. I mean, it’s pretty random. Is there a kind of structure, or general aim with your writing on there?
I don’t think it needs structure. Again, structure is limiting. I like to let my imagination wander to wherever it wants to go. Everything on there is just an idea; if I like the idea, I’ll create something more with it. If not, it acts as a documentation of whatever was going through my head at the time.
I think a lot of people would love to know what goes on inside your head! How do you come up with this stuff?
I have no idea. I think about things, and what you see is what I come up with.
So what inspires you?
That’s such a stupid generic interview question! Everything inspires me. Everything.
OK. What about the dreaded writer’s block, how do you cope with that?
I punch myself in the face until I can write something half-decent.
Really?
No.
Ah, OK… So who is your favourite author/ writer?
Myself.
I see. 
I was joking. I’m a big fan of Hunter S Thompson. I also recently read a book by Charles Bukowski and thoroughly enjoyed his work.
Right. So are you working on another book at the moment?
Yeah, I am. It’s completely different from what I would normally write, so it’s quite a challenge for me, and I’ve been a bit slack with it recently. And, no, it’s not the prequel to my other book, before you ask that.
I wasn’t going to.
I’m sure you weren’t.
Why is it different from your usual writing work?
It’s just completely different. I just said that.
I mean, how is it different?
What kind of question is that? It’s completely different.
But in what way?
In every way.
Would you kindly just answer the question?
It’s a stupid question. When you come up with better things to ask me, I’ll answer your questions.
It’s not a stupid question! I can ask you some stupid questions if you like? Would you like that?
Go for it.
OK. Why are you wearing that ridiculous jacket? You look like you’re from the 90s!
I am from the 90s.
Well, it looks ridiculous.
That’s kinda the point.
I think we need to wrap this interview up.
I do as well. I have better things to be doing.
I’m sure you do.

At this point, Bella Lucia left the room, kicking an innocent bystander in the shin on her way out. Nah, she didn’t really. I just like to say things like that for comic effect.