Tag Archives: Morality

Paid to troll?

There’s been a long held view that a certain element on various interweb forums do what they do, not because, like most of us beknighted souls out in the dark little corners of the great electronic nowhere, they believe. No, these are what might be called ‘professionals’ who are specifically paid to spread disinformation beneficial to their employer. Now short of a number of insiders coming clean and ‘fessing up, the availability of proof is a little shaky, and without proof, all we have is unfounded assertion. Sure I’ve looked at the Alex Jones end of the spectrum, and what he says often touches a nerve, but he’s very fond of going off half cocked.

Nevertheless. There are most definitely people who fit the description of ‘paid shill’. A lot of these can be found on various forums, ironically often accusing each other of being ‘paid shills’ for various causes. The thing is, it’s not simply the usual suspects of activist organisations and industrial combines who have the odd zealot in their midst. It’s almost like there’s a burgeoning industry out there. The Chinese are known to do it. As are the employees of certain activist groups. Even Governments, and more often NGO’s were observed to be the source of annoyance, until their operatives realised their IP’s could be tracked, and started to use people working via anonymous proxies, working from home and Wi-fi hotspots.

To be honest, it’s hard to tell the difference from your average tinfoil hat wearer from someone who makes a few pennies from trolling and pasting false reviews. There are even rumours going round the block of ‘hit trolls’, those paid to assault particular forums because the ideas expressed there are not acceptable to the trolls employers. Fortunately these people are rare, because the scuttlebutt is that they aren’t paid well for the skill level required. And despite their blinkeredness in some ways, these people aren’t stupid. Well, stupid in having no independence of thought, courtesy or common sense with a fragile molecule thin ego the size of Jupiter, but technically quite bright. Albeit with the spiritual wedding tackle of a Weasel who’s just had a very cold bath.

Mostly, paid or not, Trolls are just time wasters who butt into conversations and smear metaphorical shit all over the place before running away. People whose parents spared the rod and thus spoiled their child. Fantasists stuck in low paid employment because they believe in their ’cause’. In short, the kind of people who roundly deserve what one of my expatriate Afrikaaner neighbours would, in an unguarded moment, call a ‘lekker slaap’. If only to wake them up from the sleep of ignorance.

Sockpuppets

I’ve been taking some of my free time away from watching the antics of Hummingbirds outside my kitchen window (I’ve set up a feeder there) to read Chris Snowdon’s IEA report; ‘Sockpuppets – how the government lobbies itself and why‘. I’ve also been looking up cases where charitable status has been withdrawn and why in search of some form of possible solution to the issue. Here are three suggestions;

Solution 1: Charitable institutions may not lobby government.
Attractive but unworkable. Charities need to have some lobbying component in order to speak up for the cause they represent.

Solution 2: No more Government funding, or funding from NGOs. Again, unworkable, those who run the NGO’s will find proxies to fund people they have sympathy with.

Solution 3: Disband / defund all NGO’s. No more money for these dumping grounds for the inconvenient / incompetent with powerful friends. No more sinecures for retired politicians or their friends. This will still leave charities open to financial manipulation from large trusts with their own agenda, but it will at least stop governments playing the same game. However, making charities more financially transparent (With which true charitable trusts will have no issue) should level out the playing field, and threatening to withdraw the charitable tax status of activists and lobbyists might help.

The test of a true charity like the Red Cross for example, should always be “What good have you done lately?” By ‘good’ I mean lives saved, wells drilled, people helped, infrastructure rebuilt and messes cleaned up. Protest or advocacy should not on their own count as charitable activities. Charities should be seen, as the major part of their activities, to get their hands dirty. Many do. Those that do not, aren’t. It’s not difficult.

Re: my previous post

The point I was making, or trying to make; is that lobbying organisations pose as charities by giving the barest of lip service to the work of a charitable institution. If you got that, you will understand how howlingly funny I find the video below.

Yes, give these fake charities taxpayer money to pay for lawyers and lobbyists to lobby for new laws to outlaw and prevent smoking, drinking alcohol, meat eating, Canadian oil pipelines, cheap energy from shale gas and well, everything…….

You’d only spend it on enjoying yourself, anyway.

Charities?

Here’s a riddle for you.

When is a charity not a charity?

When it’s primarily a government (or privately) funded lobbying organisation.

This is not a joke.

As one whose real life CV contains a good deal of volunteering for various (UK and Canadian) registered charities, I’d like to think I know the difference. My charity work has always been focused on the practical; restoring, cleaning, delivering, fitting and rebuilding kind of work. From rebuilding computer networks, helping restore a near derelict local facility to full use to scrubbing some horrendous gunge off various aids for the disabled. That sort of thing.

Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increased politicisation of the voluntary sector. Where lobbyists, disguising themselves as registered charities, do pure advocacy work for various clients, including Government agencies. Where I have no issue with citizen advocates speaking up for the less able and impoverished, what I do have an issue with is Government paying ‘charities’ to further the Governments (and their friends) own agenda.

Let’s take a classic example. Remember the Climate change kiddie snuff porn video by advocacy group 10:10? When I wrote to my UK MP to object, I was told plainly that the UK government would ‘continue to support’ such messages. 10:10 had purportedly received sponsorship from EU and UK sources to produce that obscenity (As well as Sony and O2). Now, forgive me for being as bit dogmatic here, but is that charity? Does it assist the poor or less able? No. It does help the vested financial interests who make their moolah by boosting energy prices and farming taxpayer funded subsidies. Most certainly not the poor buggers who are currently in ‘fuel poverty’.

The Devils Kitchen runs a little website called www.fakecharities.org, which lists the details of some of the UK based lobbyists posing as charitable institutions.

This stuff isn’t new. It’s been doing the rounds on the UK blogosphere for several years now. See Tim Worstall’s 2009 piece on the Adam Smith Institute website. Now the mainstream are playing catch up.

Of course there have always been scam artists who pose as registered charities or who put out collection boxes for said charity with no intention of passing on the public’s generosity to the real organisation. What really pisses me off, as a real life worker for charity, is the biggest fraud of all; Governments paying advocacy groups to lobby for Government policy using taxpayer dollar.

Prohibition is doomed to failure

The phrase, “A scientific study says..” is enough to elicit another core shuddering groan from me. We are constantly bombarded with messages such as; “This is bad for you” or ‘that will kill you”. To which I say; You’ve got to die of something. Death is the final arbiter of all matters. We are finite; we inspire, then expire. This is a fundamental fact of (insert ironic laugh here) life. It’s not worth worrying about. I’m under no illusions, as I’ve just attended the second funeral of family friends in six months. We are mortal, all of us, and that’s that.

I grew up in the countryside, in an English village so small that if you hadn’t hit the brakes when you’d seen the ‘Welcome to’ sign, you’d be halfway out of the parish by the time you stopped. Amongst my neighbours was a guy everyone called ‘Pop’. A decent old stick who was largely self sufficient and seemed to spend half his life out in the garden, or for a once weekly five mile walk between pubs to enjoy a pint and a pipeful with friends. His house had no central heating and a coal burning AGA, but old Pop nursed a dark secret – home made rum. Wicked stuff which I was once allowed a taste of, much to my fathers and Pop’s amusement. Well, I was only fourteen at the time.

About once a month or so in late summer, Pop would amble amiably down to his garden shed with a new home grown marrow and a bag of Demerara sugar and a few other bits and bobs. The marrow would have the inner cavity scooped out, filled with raisins and Demerara sugar, then the bottom (Stem end) stuffed into an enamel bucket. I’m not sure if he used any yeast as this was a long time ago. What I do know is that he had several of these things on the go at any given time. Every so often he might add a little water, and once the sugar and raisins had liquified and drained out of the marrow into the bucket he would piece together the following: an old copper kettle, some copper tubes and an old car radiator which he’d flushed out with boiling water a few times. He’d put the rather unpleasant smelling liquor into the kettle and put it over an old gas ring then set it to simmer for a couple of hours while he went to do some weeding. He’d wander back and forth to his shed, then shut the door to do something mysterious. Around twilight he might be observed wandering up the garden path with a single half pint whiskey bottle in his hand. He would arise late the following morning. Usually around Eleven, sit outside his door on an old folding chair, full head of shortish white hair still mussed with sleep, a pipe of home grown baccy which had a particular fruity and rounded smell, and smile gently at the world. He died aged 95 in the early 1970’s. Less than three months after well meaning relatives had shuffled him off to a nursing home.

Pop once gave me a snifter (With my dad’s permission) in a tiny liqueur glass for energetically cutting back his overgrown privet hedge one wet spring day. I was bone achingly tired and soaked to the skin, but that stuff put steel in my spine and before long my damp clothes were steaming. Even after this length of time the oily texture and rich sinus clearing aniseed overtones are still vivid in memory. The taste wasn’t wonderful, but it certainly woke me up.

While the previous example might not on the surface, seem to have much to do with prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages, I cite it as evidence that even if you couldn’t buy hard liquor, there are easy ways to make your own. How would prohibitionists have stopped him? Confiscated his marrows? Banned the sale of sugar or raisins? Taken all the junk out of his garden shed? The enforcement overhead to shut down every Pop level home brewing operation would be (and is) incredibly expensive. The same goes for all substances that people use to sidestep the mundane day to day of the modern world.

From home brewing to grown marijuana and small scale drug production, intoxicants of one shape or form will always be with us. This is the reason why prohibition is doomed to failure. The enforcers can’t be everywhere.

Intellectual Pron?

Excuse the deliberate title typo, but in this post I want to explore a specific subject, specifically ‘pornography’ without flagging up on multiple ‘block’ lists. The ‘stimulus’ for this post came from this little article about noted thinker, Alain De Botton, deciding to produce more intellectually satisfying matter of this nature. Presumably this means his performers will be exploring deep philosophical questions whilst probing each others pink bits to appear on the ‘better porn’ website he is proposing.

Here he is, exploring values after religion.

Don’t entirely agree with him, but that’s just me. My personal view is that people should be free to explore personal extinction through ‘drugs’, should they have the will and the means to do so. It is not for me to dictate their behaviour.

Likewise with those mini treatises on copulation and comparative anatomy. Done well they are high art, done poorly, cheap brutishness. In some respects it’s more a matter of quality control than morality. The cheap and tawdry stuff De Botton presumably wishes to offer an improvement on is kind of the Supermarket low price own brand end of the marketplace. Junky, unsatisfying, full of cornstarch filler and additives, but contains enough calories and suchlike to support life – although add enough chocolate and you’ve got an ‘obesity epidemic’.

In sex, as in food, there is a wide variety; from a good steak dinner to junk food and all stations in between. What is satisfying for one leaves another feeling hollow and craving something better.

So it is with matters erotic. There is such a thing as a ‘healthy’ level of stimulation – although I would steer clear of De Bottons idea of making such materiel available to children. Childhood is tricky enough without having to learn too early why little John and Janet have different bits to piss from, and what purposes said bits are used for when you grow up. Even more so when said bits seem to develop a life and will of their own shortly before puberty. So porn for children – no. It opens too many dark and disturbing little avenues. Why should they be forced into growing up too soon just to satisfy others? It narrows their mental horizons. There are more things to explore in this world than sex. Everything to its own time and season.

As to whether pornography can be turned into something ‘moral’ or ‘noble’, well, there’s a moral dichotomy right there. Carnality noble? The immoral, moral? If Mr De Botton wants to try, he’s welcome, but I feel that biology will be the final arbiter. Psychology, with a small spicing of philosophy, may be able to conjour habits from a rat, but humanity is hardwired for sex.

In a medical text I once studied there was a diagram of the human brain with representations of which area governed which organs and senses. In the male, the second biggest area was the hands. No prizes for guessing what the largest area was. If you see one of those cute little male homunculi models representing the amount of brain use as outsize hands, feet etc, you will notice that these public models are relatively sexless. Which is a lie. If these homunculi were truly representational of brain function, they would be dragging massive willies about. Bigger than the hands in fact.

If that aspect of human behaviour is what De Botton is trying to give nobility and morality to, he’s got an uphill battle ahead of him.