The Illuminati Cult of Alfa Romeo

On the face of it, you’d be mad to buy a classic Alfa Romeo. Even when new, models like the Alfasud and Alfetta were a byword for rust and later 1980s and 90s Alfas generally finished high up in any breakdown/unreliability survey. Dealers are thin on the ground and some spares prices verge on the Venezuelan. Poor selling models that are just 15 – 20 years old are becoming almost impossible to keep going, as parts supply dries up.

Every Alfa owner prays to the gods of cambelt and variator gears, each time they drive the blessed thing, such is the reputation for fragility. Electrics work mainly by Game of Thrones type magic and most Alfa convertibles have more roof leaks than a HMO bedsit lodging house in Croydon.

alfa pixl one

2.0 litre Spider can be a good choice for Alfisti on a budget.

So why is there a cult surrounding Alfa ownership – is it all Top Gear’s fault?

Not really, because TG merely noted, reflected and amplified the obsessive nature of Alfa owners. The cult had begun, like the Illuminati or the Freemasons, many years before the Clarkson-Hammond-May version of TG arrived on the scene. These hardy Alfa men – and it usually is men, not women – who cherish, fettle and nurse these flawed motoring masterpieces towards the knacker’s yard, all share a common set of values.

alfa gta busso engine detail

These are, in no particular order:

A religious devotion to Italian engineering in general, regardless of its bizarre quirks and myriad failings. I mean, who needs things like door handles when small buttons and sharp door edges offer a more exciting challenge?

An Arthurian-like quest to own the single, 100% reliable Alfa made during the last 40 years, even though no such thing exists. It is a unicorn, of course.

An understanding that sheer Latin style ALWAYS beats trivial considerations like speed, handling or braking in a straight line.

The smell of leather and damp carpets in the mornings.

The unspoken agreement that Japanese reliability is not only a myth, but is never a good reason to buy a used car.

Are You An Alfaholic, Or Are You Just a Driver?

True Alfisti/Alfaholics will celebrate their cult every weekend, by either driving their Alfa a short distance, or more likely, doing some tedious and convoluted maintenance work on the car. It could be attempting to replace a plastic gear cog inside a roof motor on a 916 Spider, and then filling up the hydraulic fluid reservoir to the correct level. It might be replacing all the suspension/steering bushes on an ill-handling 156 with a Polybush kit. This will involve lots of WD40, swear words and moments of despair, when discovering how corroded a vital suspension part is.

Other necessary devotions to the cult include attending classic car shows, but only on days when blazing sunshine is guaranteed of course. Then there are web forums, where Alfa owners can play an endless game of Top Trumps, as they share tips, tricks, dodges, obscure parts suppliers etc – but only to selected chums. It really is motoring freemasonery – kudos have to be earned, the hard way.

One topic of debate which will echo through the ages is the matter of which Alfa models are the most beautiful, the sexiest sounding, or the best value for money for the true Alfisti. So here are my top three Alfas for under £5000.

alfa 156 gta blue

156 GTA also looks the biz in blue.

3. 156 GTA V6

You can just buy a 156 GTA for five grand cash. It won’t be in great condition and will need work, but if you keep searching, especially in winter, you might drop lucky. This boxy saloon isn’t as good looking as a sleek 166, but it has a brutal V6 soundtrack from that 3.2 litre Busso engine. Just lift the bonnet, see those pipes, and you’ll be hooked.

alfa gtv 3.0 red

GTV 3.0 is a future classic, prices can only go one way.

2. GTV 3.0

A project example will cost you about three grand, but possibly another three or four thousand in restoration costs. Spend five grand wisely and it should get you a pretty much sorted, roadworthy GTV. This model is a wonderful marriage of speed, noise and quirky style. Try to buy a GTV that’s had a Q2 diff fitted, plus suspension upgrades – more use than the Cup racy bodywork kit.

alfa brera red

  1. Brera 2.2 JTS

Yep, I’d prefer the 3.2 V6 Brera as well, but you’ll need another three or four grand on top of 5K to get a V6. The 2.2 hasn’t got as much oomph, but it is a beautiful car, with a superb interior that really makes you feel this is a luxury coupe. Just look at the front – every good bit from the Spider/156/159 has been refined and blended into the perfect face and the raised bonnet line adds a sleek, ocean liner touch. Brilliant.

Yes, the Brera is a modern Alfa, so purists will argue that it has too many Fiat/GM parts to qualify as a real Alfa Romeo. But buy one in red, or the stunning black-with-red-leather combo, and you’ll start talking like De Niro within 50 miles. I say stick with the 2.2 petrol engines, because as nice as the 2.4 diesels are, they all go wrong eventually when that exhaust gas recycling gubbins fills its guts with clag and black slime.

OK, ciao. See you down the road.

 

 

 

AI News Round Up

Here are some AI related news features I spotted recently.

Here’s an interesting prediction from Jack Ma, head of Alibaba – `more pain than gain.’

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/24/alibaba-jack-ma-artificial-intelligence-more-pain-than-happiness

If a company uses AI to design and manufacture a car, and that car tends to catch fire, who is to blame; the company, or the intelligence that created the on-board electronics/software?

http://www.globallegalpost.com/global-view/law-needs-reshaped-as-ai-and-robotics-alter-employment-81001194/?utm_source=page-popup

ai-brain circuitry

Apparently AI is racist and sexist, and a woman has started a campaign against that;

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/west-norwood-mum-starts-campaign-against-racist-ai

A Royal Society study reveals it’s more concerned with `bias’ being programmed into AI, rather than the huge impact on the UK jobs market. So yeah, bit racist HAL 9000 then…

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/royal-society-we-must-take-action-ai-machine-learning-safeguard-our-futures-1618401

Hard to see how a mere 8.6Million will go anywhere in respect to developing driverless vehicles. A pittance compared to amounts being put in by Google, Amazon and others. But I guess it keeps a few academics in Prosecco for a few years…

http://techcitynews.com/2017/04/24/oxfords-ai-firm-oxbotica-to-lead-driverless-car-consortium-following-8-6m-innovate-uk-grant/

driverless VW

Notice this VW prototype could carry passengers like a taxi, commuters to work/meetings, or deliver packages to a pick up point if converted to a windowless van.

VW put $180 million into driverless vehicles and voice recognition tech. Bit more than than the pitiful Oxbot project mentioned above.

http://www.itpro.co.uk/strategy/28445/volkswagen-and-delphi-charge-forward-on-driverless-cars

Hope you enjoyed the links and if you see something interesting on the subject of AI, its impact on jobs and how we can fund UBI, then post a link or comment below.

 

Our Jobless Future: Different Perspectives

As regular readers know, I believe that a seismic shift, a profound change in society has already begun in the shape of AI and automation eradicating jobs.

We need UBI (Universal Basic Income) because millions of jobs will vanish, forever. It isn’t a recession, it is a massive de-industrialisation of society – for the first time in human history, the majority of us will not NEED to work – unless of course a rich elite choose to make us slaves.

Investment-Banks AI future

Here are some recent articles on automation and Artificial Intelligence, with different viewpoints. Politicians don’t really want to face this reality, but the tsunami is coming, and soon.

This one looks at the changes in the USA and why Trump voters hoping for factory work are bound to be disappointed; http://www.businessinsider.com/automation-to-destroy-millions-of-jobs-in-the-us-2017-3?IR=T

This one quotes on Bill Gates, who thinks UBI is necessary. He also thinks that adults should be working in education to obtain tax credits/free money. Hmm, I don’t think that is anything other than a form of compulsory baby-sitting, and why would today’s self-righteous, earbud wearing, SJW young listen to anything a person  over 50 said to them?

On the robot tax I agree with Gates – companies sacking workers and replacing them need to pay a fee for every job lost. http://basicincome.org/news/2017/03/bill-gates-addresses-ubi-reddit-ama/

bill gates ai

Bill spent his working life replacing humans with software – now he wants seniors to become babysitters for the unemployable young. No thanks Bill.

This one I really like, because it looks at banking and investment, a closed shop racket if ever there was one.

I agree that many well paid people, currently blagging their investment fees and commission using bullshit, smoke and mirrors, will lose their cushy jobs soon. Sadly, many dedicated and helpful people in call centres and bank branches will also be replaced by screens and AI.http://www.computerweekly.com/news/450414475/Investment-industry-to-spend-28bn-on-AI-by-2021-expected-to-cut-quarter-of-a-million-jobs

And finally, Stephen Hawking calls for world government and predicts people will merge with AI machines one day. I don’t think he is right on either score, but it makes for a thought-provoking piece. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/stephen-hawking-world-government-stop-technology-destroy-humankind-th-a7618021.html

Seen an interesting article on UBI or AI? Post a link in Comments.

Dumb Britain: The Decline and Fall of Reading

The more we become addicted to screens, the fewer books are being bought, and more importantly, actually read from cover to cover.

In fact, both adults and young people are shunning the reading habit, losing the joy, the immersive pleasure of reading an interesting book. The decline in reading is accelerating and my guess is that by 2030, only older people – especially older 45-75 year old women – will actually read more than one book a year.

Yes, I did say one book per year. I’ll put money on that sad prediction and here’s the evidence that prompted me to come to that sad conclusion.

Academic Studies Find Young Generation Are Dumbing Down

hungrycaterpillar-book

A 2011 study by Dundee University of over 150,000 children found that the most popular book for girls aged 14-16 was The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is a picture book, with very few words on the pages, aimed at 6-8 year olds. Sad isn’t it?

Here’s a link which drills down into the study results in more detail if you have the time.

The same team at Dundee analysed reading habits in 2016, sampling over 800,000 students. Things are getting worse. The top two books for teenage girls were the ghostwritten dross Girl Online and Girl Online – On Tour, by You Tube moron Zoella. Although she didn’t actually write the books of course.

zoella-girl-book

Another popular series is The Enemy, a zombie rehash of Lord of The Flies/ 28 Days Later, where only kids aged 14 and under are left alive to battle the zombie adults. Naturally all the London kids are cool and most of the adults are stupid. Much of the dialogue is in the `Yeah…no, but yeah. Cool’ vein and the sentences are short, clipped and easy to digest for those with the attention span of a house fly.

More info on the 2016 reading survey here.

The thing that strikes you about these popular `Young Adult’ genre books is that they’re essentially trailers for the associated merchandising and marketing machines. They are simply brands, franchises, like James Bond, The Simpsons or Marvel Comics. What’s happened is that reading has been debased by the likes of billionaire Rowling and her imitators, great stories are reduced to being mere bait, to reel in more cash from movies, games, T-shirts, sandwich boxes, fancy dress costumes or action figures.

harry-potter-merchandise

Rowling is arguably the person most responsible for turning young readers into young – and not so young – consumers. Her genius lies not in her writing, but instead the shrewd, ruthless ability to extract as much cash from her characters as humanly possible. Rowling is the first 21st century modern writer; an impressario of her own brand, and the Wonka-esque creator of an infinite universe of spin-offs, movies, merchandise and theme parks.

Tsundoku And The Art of Looking Bookish

The Japanese word Tsundoku means `pile of unread books.’ This is something that UK adults have been keen on since the success of the utterly unreadable pile of shite that was Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, back in the 1970s. I bought it, couldn’t read it because it was drivel, and ended up parking it in my bookcase, thinking it might impress girls. It didn’t.

At 2016’s Hay Festival – Glasto for middle class literary wankers – Foyles bookshop director Sion Hamilton noted that people were buying books to decorate their homes with physical artefacts, which defined their personality. They liked books on `mindfulness,’ noted Hamilton, and this is because books about pondering your own tedious existence; goals, fears, addictions, diet, fitness level blah-blah, obviously makes you much more sexually attractive to lots of people with money.

Here are some more disturbing stats about adult reading habits.

In 2015 Kobo revealed that 60 percent of ALL e-books downloaded in the USA were NEVER opened. Not a page was read.

Pew Research reported in 2014 that a quarter of US adults hadn’t read a book all year. The number of non-readers, that is people who NEVER read any books, has tripled since 1978.

A 2016 survey of 5000 UK adults found that just 26 percent tried reading a book at night to help them get to sleep – most preferred to drink alcohol. Four years previously a healthy 46 percent of adults said they tried reading until they felt sleepy, so it is a sharp decline.

swear-words-colouring-book

The Rise of The Kidult

The final nail in the coffin for adult literacy is the pitiful social trend known as being a `Kidult’ until the age of 40. You can see this in the booming sales of adult colouring books, where your brain can be switched off whilst you doodle. Or the tedious one joke Ladybird For Adults series, where real life is reduced to a series of 1960s style, Enid Blyton parody cartoons.

It is depressing that a generation of 25-40 year old women have bought the dreary, appallingly written Fifty Shades series, and immerse themselves in a story which is essentially Cinderella with whips, chains and butt plugs. The woman in Fifty Shades is the chattel, the possession, of the billionaire weirdo Christian Grey. This is the ultimate kidult fantasy – all your bills taken care of, new clothes and shoes bought & holidays paid for – whilst you are literally butt-fucked for pleasure. Nil responsibility, no thinking required. Just submission to your shallow fate.

What went wrong? When did we let the publishing industry decide that books should no longer inspire us to change the world, or truly open the minds of the young, with complex ideas and unfamiliar words? Where is today’s version of Satanic Verses, a book that enrages Imams with uncomfortable truths about the founding mythology of theocracy?

You cannot imagine Anthony Burgess finding a publisher today for A Clockwork Orange, as the language would be deemed `too difficult’ for the semi-literate dipsticks who struggle with Zoella. Also, there are no zombies in it. Which is crap, obvs. How could any major publisher produce Kafka’s Metamorphosis today? Except as a colouring book with a caterpillar in it of course…

Video killed the radio star, as the Buggles noted in the 80s, but Kidults have killed the great novel, and relegated brilliant science, history or political books to an academic ghetto, where a handful of smug students and hipster tutors argue over what is, or is not, tolerated by their PC sensibilities.

All we have left are screen dreams and social media soundbites – books are dying.

 

A Short History of Electronica

Electronic music was a niche interest for decades during the 20th century, but it took a couple of crucial tunes in the 60s to really bring it to wider public attention.

TELSTAR BLAZES A TRAIL IN THE SKY

Arguably the first electronic pop hit was Telstar by The Tornados, way back in 1962. This eerie, soaring piece of home studio tech-trickery was the brainchild of Joe Meek, an eccentric genius who produced unique sounds, wrote songs and saw himself as a record label boss too.

Take a listen here; Telstar. 

Telstar remains a brilliant homage to the 1960s space age, and a ground-breaking piece of electro pop. There’s simply nothing else like it from early 60s British or American chart music. It’s truly experimental – check the opening and ending satellite noises, the weird feedback from the future.

joe-meek

Yet Telstar has a powerful, almost conventional melody, plus wonderful flourishes and counterpoints bouncing off the central theme of the song. Meek never really hit this kind of electronic gold again, and died by his own hand in 1967, as an argument over copyright infringement rumbled on. It was settled in his favour, after his suicide by the way.

DR WHO BRINGS ELECTRONICA TO EVERY LIVING ROOM

In 1963, a year after Telstar, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop – yes, there was such a thing – produced the theme for the new Dr Who sci-fi children’s series. It is one of the most enduring, and catchy pop tunes ever composed and inspired a legion of experimenters throughout pop music for the next decade or so.

Composed by Ron Grainer and Delia Derbyshire, the Dr Who theme is an elegant, soaring and epic tune. Like Telstar it has lots of little touches which add interest as the theme develops and it’s a typical BBC crime that Delia Derbyshire received NO royalties at all for her studio work in producing the theme song.

Listen to the various Dr Who themes, including the original here.

1960s PROG ROCK AND THE GERMAN INFLUENCE

It took the invention of the mini-Moog to bring electro into various bands during the 60s, although studio producers were also pushing on with adding various effects and futuristic edginess to some pop and rock songs.

The psychedelic summer of `67 brought studio manipulation to the fore, not just with art-house bands like Pink Floyd, but the Beatles and Stones had bold electronic effects and tweaks on tracks like 2000 Light Years From Home, or  A Day in The Life.

But studio overdubbing, double/vari-speeding vocal tracks or adding a splash of Mellotron wasn’t quite electronic rock, or pop. Bands and studio engineers were using electro to add an extra layer to conventional rock or pop music.

Bands like Tangerine Dream and Can were trying to fuse some of the classical 50s and 60s elements of electronic or synth music with psychedelic rock in the late 60s and early 70s. In the UK Emerson Lake and Palmer brought instruments like the Moog on stage.The early incarnation of Roxy Music saw Brian Eno add a kind of prototype ambient sound to songs like The Bogus Man and Ladytron.

kraftwerk

But all this was fiddling at the edges and it took a German band to snap the chains and break free from the past. Enter Kraftwerk. No guitars, no drums, no bass guitars. Just metal machine music from 1974 onwards.

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the Autobahn album from 1973 now, because Kraftwerk inspired a legion of bands and musicians, all keen to dump traditional instruments and utilise synths, moogs, keyboards, studio effects to create an entirely new sound. The title track from Autobahn was a global hit and it captures the 70s road culture, the 24/7 movement of people and goods, perfectly. There’s an almost Dr Who undertone of alienation, and fear, in Autobahn too, it isn’t just a raw celebration of motorway speed and multi-track futurism.

Listen to the `74 single version here. 

THE BRITISH SYNTH EXPLOSION

Kraftwerk were pioneers, and other German bands like Tangerine Dream had an impact within Prog Rock circles, but as regards mainstream pop and rock, the big movement of the mid-70s was punk, which was a return to the chaotic roots of rock `n’ roll, the idea that any bunch of crazy kids could throw together a band and just do it.

Punk was OK for guitar heroes, anarchists and riotous, slightly unstable shouty people, but in the background more studious types were investing in strange little boxes, twiddling with tape loops and trying to fuse moody German arthouse grandeur with a uniquely British take on catchy pop songwriting. The big strep forward was creating synth music you could actually dance to – something the Germans couldn’t really grasp, because – well, just watch some German people trying to dance. You’ll understand.

00000tmp

Pioneers like the Human League, Gary Numan and Orchestral Manouevres In The Dark made the breakthrough in the late 70s and early 1980s. From 1981 onwards, it was electronica all the way, and this new sound; an upbeat, danceable solution to the problem of blending electronics with pop music, suddenly caught on, and went mainstream for the first time.

There was still an arthouse mezzanine level, where New Order, Cabaret Voltaire, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Jean-Michel Jarre liked to shield themselves from TOTP and the Hoi Polloi to an extent. They also made some great music. But electronica found its moniker in the 80s, and it’s never looked back.

F*** art – let’s dance!

Here are some of the greatest hits of electronica;

Blue Monday – New Order. Factory Records reportedly lost money on every 12 inch version. Thank God for Tony Wilson and his Granada Reports pay packet 😉

Love Action – The Human League. Phil and the girls at their peak, lip-synthing and hip-swaying on BBC TV circa 1981. Wonderful stuff.

Fade To Grey – Visage. The late, great Steve Strange defined the whole New Romantic movement of the early 80s. If you listen closely, you can hear the echoes of Telstar in this swirling production.

Enola Gay – OMD. Depressing lyrics set atop a perfect pop symphony. It’s a little known fact that UKIP member Paul Nuttall played a Hammond organ on this track.

Enjoy The Silence – Depeche Mode. Even in the ’90s Depeche Mode could still come up a killer track

 

 

Comparing Trump to Hitler is An Insult to 48 Million War Dead

There’s been a tedious howl of left-wing anguish since the election of Donald Trump, and in its wake several mainstream media outlets have repeated views that Trump is creating a new `Nazi Germany,’ or drawn parallels with the 1930s. Even Prince Charles, the Archbishop of Canterbury and historian Simon Schama have joined in.

Here’s a few links, highlighting the direct comparison between 1930s Fascist Germany and Trump’s regime in the USA:

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/730325/Simon-Schama-Donald-Trump-Hitler-Germany

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/britains-prince-charles-warns-of-populist-fascist-horrors/news-story/0613a735e300cea461e1e47ada5768b0

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/22/observer-view-donald-trump-inauguration

But are there really ANY useful comparisons to be drawn between 1930s Nazi Germany and America in 2017? Of course not, and for those aged under 30, who probably haven’t actually read a history book from beginning to end, plus the slow of understanding who garner their opinions from Tweets or rants on Facebook, I’m going to explain using things called facts. You know, stuff that actually happened.

art-of-the-deal-trump

HITLER’S RISE VS TRUMP’S RISE

Hitler was jailed in the 1920s after trying to set up his own little fascist state in Bavaria. Whilst in prison, he started to write a book called Mein Kampf, completed in 1926 after leaving jail. In this book Hitler clearly lays out what he is going to do if he obtains power. Killing and enslaving Slavs, eradicating Jews, killing the sick and disabled, annexing territory for a bigger Germany, regaining a German empire through force and kicking the shit out of France.

Once Hitler gained power after a close general election in January 1933, he waited just TWO months – yes eight weeks – before having opposition leaders arrested, setting up a Ministry of Propaganda, put uniformed henchmen (SA) into Parliament to `observe’ proceedings, made the Communist Party of Germany illegal, opened Dachau concentration camp and dissolved the state of Bavaria. By summer 1933 Jews from Eastern Europe were having their citizenship revoked and public book burnings were well underway. Pretty busy eh?

Let’s look at Trump’s rise.

Attempted seizure of State using local goon squad? Erm…no.

Uniformed henchmen? No.

Evil book with masterplan? Well, no.

There was a book called The Art of The Deal. To my knowledge, there’s no chapter on genocide, attacking France, hating Jews or purifying the American race. In fact, Trump didn’t even write a book, ever – he used a ghostwriter.

But now Trump is President, he’s passing laws rounding up/banning foreigners isn’t he?

Is he. Where are these laws? When is Congress due to pass them? The selective extra vetting for seven countries is still bogged down in the US courts. Hitler would have pulled a gun by now, opened a concentration camp in Wyoming and had the Clintons arrested, then tried for treason.

Instead, Trump has to go through a legal system. That is a crucial difference between 2017 and 1933; the rule of law is being followed in the USA, a violent, racist autocracy has not been established in a matter of weeks. Nor is it likely to be set up, so stop whining on about Simon Schama.

BANNING FREE SPEECH, SMASHING UP SHOPS – NOT JUST NAZIS DOING IT

The Nazis loved smashing up Jewish businesses in the 1930s. There was a thing called Kristallnacht in 1938, where thousands of Jewish shops had their windows smashed. The following day arrests of Jews were accelerated and the process of killing Jews via concentration camps was also speeded up as war loomed.

By the late 1930s the Nazis had effectively shut down all opposition media, taken control of film, radio, book distribution, censored libraries and driven many free-thinking writers abroad, or had them arrested/killed.

Does anyone really think that Trump plans to have TV stations closed down, editors arrested and killed or control ALL of Hollywood’s movie output? Calling out CNN or the BBC for their obvious left wing bias is something many politicians have done in private for years. Trump is just saying it out loud because he lacks the guile, cunning and well practised lying that professional politicians have developed from their University days.

antifa-goons-ready-for-fight

The only people smashing up shops in the USA today are Antifa; a sinister black-clad, rag-bag army, who dub themselves `The Resistance’ and are willing to physically attack anyone who voices an opposing view to their mob rule. That, in fact, is closer to the fascism of Hitler’s SA, than anything on the Republican side.

Trump is not banning free speech in the US. In fact, the only restrictions on speech come from the left, who shut down Milo and other so-called `Nazis,’ or no-platform anyone they disagree with. These are the exact same tactics used by the fledgling Nazi Party in Germany; don’t debate, but fight and burn instead.

SOME SALIENT FACTS

Germany lost WW1 and had to pay millions in reparations to Britain, the USA and France. These payments of 132 billion Marks bankrupted Germany, partially helping the rise of Hitler and the Nazis by instilling a deep grievance within German society.

By contrast the USA has NOT lost a major war in the last 15 years. It is NOT paying huge amounts to the victors in that imaginary war.

German territory in the Saar was handed over to the League of Nations, and a de-militarized zone in the Rhineland agreed, to placate the French, who knew that the Germans would be back one day for another bitter fight.

I cannot see a section of the USA which is under United Nations control, nor is there a de-militarized zone near the border with Mexico, or Canada.

I could go on, but hopefully anyone with an open mind can see that Europe in the 1930s bears no serious comparison to modern day America, or modern Europe for that matter. The Great Powers, like France and Britain are now bankrupt pygmy nations, with pitifully small armies barely able to cope with pot-smoking terrorists, never mind a well trained, heavily armed, invading force.

hitlers-sa-brownshirts

The left like to waffle on about the rise of `populism’ as if new versions of the Nazi Party are springing up across America and Europe. They are not. There is no mass movement, only splinter groups, comprising of bored, unhinged men with learning difficulties and a collection of SS daggers.

The real populist parties today are the SNP, or Plaid Cymru, who want nationhood, freedom, and true power enshrined within their own regional Parliaments. But they aren’t wearing jackboots and calling for mass killings. They want to reclaim democracy, and defy globalism, or rule via a `foreign’ power, to an extent – although they’re willing to take the money from the EU/UK governments of course..

To try and twist history, simply to whip up irrational hatred against those who feel the EU, or the Washington political machine, has TOO much power, and needs serious reform, is to misunderstand the lessons from the 1930s. To attack those of us who say that global corporations are treating people like portable medieval serfs, bereft of employment rights and saddled with paying the tax that the rich so effortlessly avoid, by calling us fascists, is an insult. Both to the war dead, and to those who work hard to make a decent life in modern democracies and demand accountable politicians, not self-serving elitists like the Obamas, Clintons, Blairs, Bransons, or similar ilk.

For all his faults, Trump is shaking the tree. Calling out the bullshit which has infected US politics, and the cosy lobbying system which undermines democracy by giving too much power to those with the biggest chequebook. I don’t think he will make America great again, because most people in the USA haven’t the guts to take the fight to ISIS, the REAL fascists, the true inheritors of the Nazi legacy.

And it will come to a terrible fight. Fascists are like that, they cannot be reasoned with and in the end, you must wipe them from the face of the earth. History keeps teaching us that very salient lesson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New VED Car Tax Rules: Do Not Pass Go, But Do Pay £100s More

New rules on VED car tax come into effect on April 1st 2017 and the government has played a blinder. More tax, more complication over emissions bands, plus the sneaky rule on `sorry no refunds this month’ when you sell your car applies. But the new owner must tax the car immediately, so in effect the SAME car is being taxed twice over for up to 30 days.

That really is a wizard wheeze by the UK Treasury. Others might call it fraud, but let’s not get bogged down in who conned who…or spent the VED tax on providing Spice Girls bands in Somalia…

peugeot-208-car-tax

Now, at this point I would love to sum up the new VED tax rules in a few pithy sentences, but I can’t and neither can any motoring journo, government spokesperson or consumer expert. Why? Because they’ve created a Monopoly board game out of car tax – it’s so complex that nobody can understand it, which I guess is the whole point. Baffled people tend to simply pay up, grumble a bit, and then drive to a Toby Carvery to drown their sorrows in cancer-inducing roast spuds and gravy.

Mmmm, sounds well tasty. But here some 2017 VED tax rate highlights for you, just for fun.

New cars will now have a massive VED tax premium slapped on them. So previously a low emissions (99g/Km) Suzuki Shopper, or a Nissan Nibbler owner might pay a measly £30 a year. This is going up to about £140 a year. If you choose a typical hatchback like a Peugeot 208 with a 1.6 petrol engine, it will cost you £160 a year, instead of being free for the first year and £110 thereafter.

See, told you it was a Monopoly game.

Now if you run a big company car, the tax on anything costing over £40,000 is an extra £310 for the first 5 years, on top of the emissions related tax. So let’s say your name is Jason, you run a data grabbing & sales company and drive an Audi A5 2.0 Sportback. You will have to pay £200 a year, plus £310 surcharge for 5 years of PCP contract hire on your German posing pouch on wheels. But that’s OK, your company pays, so ultimately…your customers pay the tax. Magic.

Owners of older cars will also have to stump up about £200 a year on average, depending on the emissions ranking of their engine of course. Some classic car owners – pre 2001 models – will find that the new system has cut their VED bills quite dramatically.

For example, a big Alfa V6 3.0 will now cost just £200 a year to tax, instead of the £515 current rate. That’s a win, but as you drive an Alfa V6, you will have to spend the savings on water pumps and variator gear belts etc. Plus bushes. Oh and some wonky door locks too.

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TAX BANDS ARE A `GREEN’ JOKE – PUT VED ON FUEL

All this tinkering with VED rates is a game – and a nice earner – for the government, but it’s more box-ticking and online kerfuffle for the millions of law-abiding car owners who actually bother to pay VED tax. Plus there’s nothing green about owning a car; they all pollute, cost a fortune to build new in terms of resources – yes, even electric cars.

You also need to build lots of power stations to charge up electric cars. Plus rape the heck out of Bolivia, mining all their lithium for the re-chargeable batteries. Yeah, bit pants really isn’t it Prius owners?

Here’s a fact; diesel cars are the biggest green motoring con trick of the last 15 years.

There’s nothing green about a diesel turbo, it just recycles its own exhaust gases three times, before shoving them out of the silencer. Manufacturers lie blatantly when it comes to fuel consumption; most 1.6 diesels struggle to do more than 35mpg in traffic. A small petrol engine can also do 35mpg in busy traffic.

Diesels clog up their EGR valves, emissions pipework etc, which requires extra maintenance. More spare parts couriered around the UK, simply to keep choked up diesel cars on the road.

Used diesels are green cars? Don’t make me laugh. As the strangled, soot-clogged, oily-gunked up, shitty 50-70K diesel engine tries to keep chugging along in traffic, emitting a vile grey-black cloud of smoke when the driver boots the accelerator, it is literally spewing particulates into every cyclist and pedestrians’s lungs.

Thanks motoring journo Chris Goffey – YOU were the chief twat who promoted diesels on TV in the 1990s, and dickheads in the government believed you. Cheers mate. Here’s a clip where smug Chris brags about clean, 90mpg diesel cars.In reality, VW were cheating the emissions tests – and so were all the other car makers. One big con trick.

If you really want to be green, buy a bicycle or a horse and cart; everything else is just pub banter. It’s bollocks.

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A much fairer system, which would see ALL road users pay VED tax, would be to place the levy on fuel. We already pay about 75p per litre as tax, so just add on 5p – the more miles you do, the more you pay.

So gas guzzler 3.0 litre owners pay more tax than a granny nipping out to Asda once a week in a Citroen Berlingo. Those who live in Kent, Essex, or Wiltshire and commute to London for their well paid job in the Capital, would pay  more car tax than say, an 18K call centre worker in Newcastle who lives just down the road, as the rents are more affordable than inside the M25.

Best of all, there’s no dodging the fuel/VED tax. The oil companies flogging petrol and diesel actually collect the tax, so more DVLA workers can be laid off!

Hang on, you say, if we abolish VED tax then we won’t know who owns the vehicles on the roads. OK, all we need is a vehicle reg fee for new/used cars, of say £20, paid annually. No reg fee paid on database, car is seized and crushed. No MoT or insurance? Car seized and crushed.

Two consecutive cases of driving with no documents? Licence revoked and benefits/wages docked by £1000 minimum. You want safer roads? Let’s drive the dodgers off the streets, once and for all.

Simple.

Great Opening Lines – Who Needs `Em?

It’s a cliche repeated in every creative writing group, or Eng Lit class, from here to Timbuktu; a great novel needs a gripping, intriguing, killer opening line.

You know;

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a fortune, is in want of a wife.

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Those are three outstanding examples that not only set the tone, and offer the reader a clue as to the nature of the tale to be told, but are well-crafted, concise and almost poetic. There are lessons in Shakespeare for every writer, and the sheer balance, the timbre, the lyrical finesse that Shakespeare had are always worth reaching for. Aim high, even if your writing doesn’t quite hit the peaks that the true greats could scale with ease.

But there is a lot more to writing than one perfect line and for me it’s the power of the novel to illuminate truth, touch the core of what makes us human, that really matters. A story that stretches out over say 80,000-100,000 words needs more than one or two brilliant fireworks to light the imagination.

For example, the subtle, complex examination of what makes a man lose his moral compass, Graham Greene’s Heart of The Matter, opens with the following;

Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel, with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork.

Is it a great line? I’d argue it’s fairly average, faintly comical in fact, which is the exact opposite of this gloomy book. But the novel itself is profound, moving and draws you into a world that has no real meaning left, no moments of sweetness, no crumbs of love to comfort a lost soul. Heart of The Matter is a 20th century classic and it doesn’t need a balletic twirl of the author’s pen to set the scene right from the get-go. It just chugs relentlessly onwards, becoming more Turneresque, almost Moby Dick, as the tale unfolds.

Here’s the opening line from one of the biggest selling novels of the 1970s – it sold over 15 million copies

There is something very exciting about the beginning of the evening – well, the beginning of my evening, usually about ten-thirty, eleven o’clock.

Not overwhelming is it? A bit dull, workmanlike perhaps?

Well that book was The Bitch by Jackie Collins. Not great art, but you know what, it helped buy her a mansion in California and a ticket to global fame as a writer and film producer. Not every great novel needs an opener that captivates the reader instantly, or fascinates your senses with its deft, clever touch. Sometimes, writers can just tap into the moments, the life that’s around them, or define the times they live in through the feel, dialogue and culture that the characters inhabit.

A bestseller doesn’t always have to be something as moving, life-changing or brilliant as the finest work from Jane Austen, Dickens, Graham Greene, F Scott-Fitzgerald or Mary Shelley.

Never knock popularity too much, because not every great book is a fantastic work of literature. Writing a perfect piece of candy floss entertainment starts with a simple tap-tap-tap upon the keyboard. You don’t need a witty one-liner to grab the reader by the eyelids – novels ain’t Instagram baby. And who is to judge what makes a great story; you, the readers, or critics 100 years from now?

What does it matter? Just keep writing.

If Milo’s Views Offend You, Then Add These Titles to Your Book Burning List

Those who defend free speech are to be admired, for it is a concept repeatedly under attack  today. Especially from the self-righteous left, who recently staked a claim to the moral high ground by defending Leslie Jones against Milo’s more obnoxious followers on Twitter and calling for Milo’s book to be banned.

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Let’s be clear about very important thing here kids; Leslie Jones doesn’t need any help from white Trustafarians, Buzzfeed beard-stroking readers or Maomentum brick-throwers, keen to emphasise how important an inquiry into Orgreave is, whilst tweeting violent threats to Blairites. No, you see Hollywood star Leslie has her own powerful voice, easy access to the mainstream media – who support her cause 100% – and Leslie has a profile higher than any Shoreditch Content Manager bus wanker, matched by the intelligence to stand her corner against all critics. Of whatever colour, creed or sexual preference.

Leslie Jones doesn’t need the Terror-Latte Army on Twitter to ride to her rescue. In fact her criticism of Simon & Schuster raises useful points about the limits of free speech, and more interestingly, highlights the modern interpretation of what is permitted, and what is No Platformed by all right-thinking, liberal-minded public figures…and their lickspittle hangers-on, mostly hiding behind fake names and avatars online.

DOES BOYCOTTING FREE SPEECH REALLY ERADICATE HATE SPEECH?

No, of course not. And no sitting on the fence here; I say that whoever demands to boycott Simon & Schuster, because they have the audacity to want to make money, by publishing Milo’s camp rants and satirical alt-right theories are pitiful, petty-minded arbiters of political debate.

What is it that you all are so scared of? Maybe Milo might have a point, Ghostbusters 2 was a bit pants? Or is it that Milo’s call-to-arms for Trump, his restatement that democracy and free speech rule supreme – irrefutable and immutable – regardless of who might be offended, is a terrifying idea to those on the Left, who seek to control, manage and edit, EVERYTHING, that is published. Print and online.

If you are FOR censorship, then you’re with Castro, Putin and Erdogan. Tyrants all. If you cannot debate, but only hate and shout down opposing viewpoints, then you side with sinister `anti-fascists’ like Michael Sheen, Lily Allen, Brendan Cox or John McDonnell. Control freaks basically, who cannot abide the idea that ordinary working class people might have REAL power, and a chance to make their voice heard, in our elitist, corporate, tax-dodger dominated political bubble of patronage and chumocracy.

But opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, so get over it and stop trying to organise hysterical, McCarthyist witch-hunts against anyone who argues against your cosy, globalist view. The plain fact is that Milo has the right to promulgate his worldview as much as Bonnie Greer does. You can buy their books on Amazon, or some of the titles below – it’s your choice.

So we should revel in our time of plenty when it comes to books – over seven million on Amazon alone – and celebrate that we actually HAVE that incredible range of opinion, ideas, fiction, controversial histories, or devilish satire. We have a glorious, golden age of choice, of true enlightenment.

Never lose it, never let one minority opinion dominate, or curtail, our depth and breadth of literature, essays, news and broadcast media. Otherwise, the real book burning will really get going…

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SOME OFFENSIVE AUTHORS FROM THE PAST – STILL IN PRINT. OMG!

As a footnote, here are some more authors/publishers whose work should be immediately banned, shredded and stamped on by righteous SJWs in Doc Martens, as it no doubt encourages Hate Speech, Fascism, Gender Stereotypes, CSE, Misogynist Oppression of Women and lots of other isms.

Mein Kampf – Adolf Hitler. Published by Jaico in India. So get on a plane, and organise a book burning, because that would be the perfect way to protest against Jaico printing Hitler’s book, wouldn’t it?

Tar Baby and Other Rhymes, Applewood Books. Yes, you can still buy a book about tar babies and that evil Brer Rabbit dude. Come on people, put down your vegan mung bean lattes and boycott these white supremacists!

Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov. Just filth basically. Why are Penguin Classics getting away with publishing this porn?

Any childrens books by Harry Horse. Step forward Penguin once again, who publish the works of Harry Horse, who was really author Richard Horne. Horne stabbed his MS suffering wife to death, then stabbed their pets, before finally killing himself.

And finally, anything by Nazi hagiographer, historian David Irving.

So there you have it, a bonfire of the SJW vanities, a hit list of bad books by culturally unacceptable authors. If you really can’t stand the thought of Milo being published, then surely it’s time to mount your high horse and have a tilt at these other windmills of wordsmithery too?

Or can you accept that we all have a choice?