Gravity – Review [film]


The only film I can claim to have seen four times in the cinema. Without a doubt, the greatest cinema experience of my life, restoring my faith in Hollywood and movies in general. A technical, directorial, cinematographic masterpiece, this is what 3D movies were made for. No, this is what movies were made for. It would be almost impossible to explain in a few paragraphs just how good this film is, and it probably is impossible to explain how I feel about it. But at least I can attempt the former. There is so much I could say but don’t want to give a running commentary, so I will try to limit myself to a few key points. Here goes:

The beauty of earth, the fragility of human life, the wonder of our technology, the determination of the human soul. Loneliness, emptiness, despair, depression, the incomprehensible vastness of the universe. Even the title of this film is a metaphor.

This is the first movie in over a decade I could allow myself to enjoy movie schmaltz and come away feeling uplifted. And the stunning score, which is just as much a part of the story as anything else, is undoubtedly a factor in this.

A friend of mine described his experience watching this as “spiritual”. Another had tears in his eyes at the end. I can completely relate to both those experiences. This is a completely immersive movie and if you are one of those people who allowed themselves to be immersed you won’t need me to explain this feeling.

Contrary to what some few have said, in my opinion the story of this film is not thin. The story is linear but it isn’t simple. So much of this story isn’t communicated by dialogue, but that’s the difference between a movie and a book; a lot of this story is told in true cinematic style: by the camera; how the shot is framed, the length of shot, the use of lighting and colour. And of course the unspoken or understated performances of the actors and actresses, the sound effects, the music, the objects in the foreground/background. I’m not talking about personal interpretation here, I’m talking about what you can experience with your senses.

We jump into another person’s life for 85 minutes (not real-time) and then jump out again. And there is so much that Cuarón wanted to say that to put it all together in such a short space of time, so well-paced, yet so enthralling and exciting and without smacking you over the head with it, is why the story is given the credit it is. Your brain is noticing all these things even if you aren’t consciously. It is why the rebirth in the airlock and the evolution on the shores of earth were on paper before the camera ever stated rolling. It’s why the story wasn’t even going to be set in space originally. It’s because Cuarón wanted to tell a particular story in a particular way, and the cinematic spectacle that it became was necessary to accomplish this. Everything visually and audibly stunning about Gravity serves the story, not the other way around.

My three favourite shots in this film could be said to encapsulate the story itself, or the three primary emotions I experienced, or maybe even three acts of this drama:

  1. The pan from Kowalski up to the earth in all its wondrous glory as we hear the first inklings of Ryan Stone’s theme. I remember seeing this for the first time in the cinema and being filled with awe at how huge the earth is, how beautiful it is, and just terrifying it would be to be an astronaut and actually see the earth above, or beneath you, with nothing but endless blackness all around. I can’t think of anything more simultaneously stunning and scary.
  2. External shot, slow pan from the Soyuz from the setting sun to the aurora borealis. Cold, lonely, silent, hopeless. Game over. There is no chance of rescue, no point in believing anymore. No point in going on.
  3. The Shenzou entering earth’s atmosphere as Tiangong’s debris burns up with it. Pure exhilaration. A firework display of colour and fire as our planet’s atmosphere, the thing which gives us life and shelters us from so many wild objects that fly through space, mercilessly incinerates everything – except one tiny thing: that small escape pod which humans, in their ingenuity, built to keep their kind alive. The solitary voice which has thus far sung Ryan Stone’s sad melody to us, now erupts in a full throng of human voices, as if from earth below, calling Ryan home. This isn’t fear anymore – this is sheer joy – this is laughing in the face of death, of adversity. This, along with the charge of the Rohirrim on the Pelannor fields, are my two favourite movie shots of all time.

So, what is this film about? Doing what each of us has to do every day of our lives: stand up on two feet in the full gravity of the only place in the totality of existence we are conditioned to survive, and keep going every day; live.

Gravity is, without doubt, the most beautiful film I have ever seen.

Final score for Gravity is: 10/10.

In Soviet Wales, Organ Donates You!

Last year, I was with friends in Wales, (Wrexham to be specific). On one afternoon we went shopping and they told me that I had to pay 5p for any bags I used. In other words: supermarkets, grocery stores, retail outlets – if you want to bag your goods there is a 5p mandatory fee for the bag. Why? Because the Welsh government passed a law forcing all retailers to impose a 5p fee on shopping bags. On principle, I refused to buy a bag in any store I went to. I even carried my goods the old fashioned way. Silly? Petty? No. Because this is the thinking behind the Welsh government in plain terms:

  1. People aren’t giving enough to charity, in our wise opinion.
  2. We want people to give more to charity, despite the fact they already have the free choice to do so and obviously are choosing not to.
  3. If we point a gun at private citizens who own retail shops, they will have to do whatever we tell them.
  4. Let’s do just that, and order them to surcharge their customers, other private citizens, into paying for carrier bags.
  5. Let’s then give that money to a charity/charities of our choosing.

Stop for a second and ask yourself what the reaction would be if a private corporation used its economic power and customer loyalty to increase its profits by simply raising prices on items that customers couldn’t do without? There would probably be uproar and boycotts and harsh language and another round of “blame all the greed and evils of the world on capitalism”. Actually, it might not get that far: the government might step in to stop one group of innocent private citizens from agreeing terms with other innocent private citizens because another group of citizens doesn’t like the idea. However, that same latter group of objectors is usually the sort which despises the very idea of a free enterprise gaining wealth through voluntary trade through value exchange, but has absolutely no problem with the State using its monopoly of physical force to dictate, at the point of a gun (because that is what physical force ultimately is), what two people may or may not trade and for how much, and whether your right as a human being to aid those in need, or not, is acceptable.

But it’s all for a good cause, isn’t it?

No. For years I have warned and written about fascism in our governments and how it will only keep increasing. I can use all the clichés I’d care: a slippery slope; the thin end of the wedge; the tip of the iceberg. The point is the same. When my friends told me that the law required a 5p compulsory charge on carrier bags, my first reaction was disbelief. ‘What a blatant and horrific abuse of political power!’ But, because it’s in the name of charity, the law was passed. (Of course, it wasn’t a law, it was a statute. A law in classic terms is one that protects the rights of human beings. Historically, no one is above the law, not even the Monarch or the government. Our governments get around this by issuing statutes, which are only valid because we don’t know any better to object. Of course, we are led a merry dance by a legal system, in league with lawyers, magistrates and the police, into thinking we have no lawful recourse. We do. It’s called the word ‘no’. But I digress…)

For one thing, charity at the point of a gun is not charity. If you want to give to charity, why do you need to be forced to pay for a carrier bag to do so? And even if you’re lazy and/or mindless enough to tolerate such decisions being taken off your fragile little mind, please don’t pretend to speak for the rest of us.

This is what happens when a government thinks it is on a holy crusade to make the world a better place. Why is this a bad thing? Because it comes down to how a government gets its own way, as opposed to the way the rest of us get what we want. It comes down the difference between economic power and political power. What is the difference between the two? What is the line? Where is the line? This is a question that is almost never asked in political debates, and never answered. Too many people have too much to gain by clouding the issue. The difference is this: physical force. As much as the Left would like you to believe differently, a vast corporation can only get to the top through exchanging values (it can get there through bribery and corruption, but only by the very system the Left wants). A corporation is only successful when it wins and retain customers. Customers are FREE to choose a corporation or its competitors. If they have no choice, then the corporation is the only one which can give them what they want. Without that corporation, they couldn’t have what they wanted anyway. This is economic power – the power to leverage based on the values you possess. Political power is exactly the opposite. Political power is this: do what I say, or I will hurt you. Or: do this and I will hurt you. No corporation is allowed this power, rightly so. Governments should have this power, otherwise they couldn’t function. But that is why this power should be used so sparingly and be strictly limited. The power of the government is: the right to point a gun at a person and force them to act (or not act), or punish them for acting (or not acting). This is why a government’s roles must be clearly defined. In other words, we the people invest our right to self-defence in the government and say: only you may use physical force, for everyone else it is banned. This, this and this, is where you should use it, and in no other circumstances.

It is the government’s sacred duty to protect our Rights. It is most certainly not the government’s job to decide whether or not we are giving enough to charity, and force us to charge other people on carrier bags!

If the government can use its power so flagrantly and arbitrarily, what else will it decide to do? What other moral crusades will it embark on?

When I heard about the 5p carrier bag levy, I said ‘it won’t stop there.’ And I was right…

…because now the Welsh government has decided that all its citizens are organ donors, unless they state otherwise. Let’s think about the implications of this for a moment: by simply living in Wales, this agency has assumed that it has the power to make claims over your body! The fact that you can opt out is irrelevant. The level of sheer arrogance and abuse of power to instantiate such a statue is mind-boggling. It is despicable and evil. By what possible power does such a government even base such a ruling on? How on earth does it get away with such a blatant violation of individual rights?

Let me say this again, because it’s being trotted out by those wishing to defend “paying back Caesar’s things to Caeser”: the fact that you can opt out is irrelevant! The very notion of “opting out” implies that if you don’t, you have consented to be an organ donor, which implies that the government’s claim over your organs is valid, which means that the government owns your organs…unless you explicitly claim them for yourself! I try to keep a modicum of decency on my blog, but, seriously, WHAT THE FUCK?!

What greater example could there be of a government claiming: ‘your life belongs to us’?

This is collectivism through and through. This is why a government that acts for “moral” reasons should never be trusted. This is why altruism and collectivism are two sides of the same coin. It is why collectivism always leads to Statism. It is why altruism is inconsistent with human well-being.

Almost all of us have come across the “classic moral dilemma” thought experiment at one point in our lives. The scenario usually involves a runaway train and people lying on the track, or a doctor who needs to save ten people at the cost of one organ donor. Even when confronted with the ten versus one “dilemma”, most people wouldn’t choose to kill the one innocent man to save ten (or even a hundred) because we recognise that regardless of the numbers involved, that one man’s life doesn’t belong to us. We also know, in our hearts, that the needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few. Or perhaps we’re more comfortable with the thought of a faceless government taking from a faceless man, something we wouldn’t be prepared to do ourselves if we had to look him in the eye and explain why.

But here, the Welsh government (perhaps drunk on the power of finally being able to rule its staggering population of 3 million (less than a major UK city)), has turned that thought experiment into reality. Oh dear, it seems they’ve actually taken it literally: what do you do when you aren’t getting enough organ donors? Claim ownership of all the people you are faithfully entrusted to protect, and their organs. It’s amazing what you can do with power, isn’t it?

Of course, this raises the question: why are organ donations so low? Well, I don’t claim to have all the answers to that, but it seems to me that organ donations historically rely on one key factor: someone has to die. (But hey, we might not have to even wait for that in the future.) Maybe organs are becoming harder to get because fewer people are dying? Which raises an even more interesting thought experiment: what if, due to medical advances (no, don’t laugh – even with the NHS, it could happen…), the quality of life greatly reduces the incidence of death, and life expectancy increases? What if, due to these factors, organ donations drop 90% over the next 50 years? My question to the Welsh government is: what then?

Of course, the obvious retort might be: “we’re not saying more people have to die, just that more people have to donate”, (although it seems somewhat hard to do one without the other…). So, maybe there are plenty of deaths (hoorah), but not enough people consenting to be organ donors? It almost makes you think there could be a perfectly valid moral reason that free individuals have chosen not to be cannibalised for their parts after death. Or, maybe many just never give it a second though. (I admit, I would happily be an organ donor but I haven’t given it that much thought. Is this laziness on my part? Maybe. Does this mean I’ve defaulted on my duties and now my body belongs to the State? Nope.) Perhaps raising public awareness and education is the way to go? Maybe people aren’t feeling particularly generous towards others (I can think of a few reasons why, in this day and age – what, when everyone seems to be lobbying the government to get something off you)?

Nah, much easier to do it by force. And the most damning part of this is that the statue passed by 43 votes to 8 with two abstentions. That’s 81% of the government which saw no problem in claiming property rights over the people it exists to protect.

This wicked and inhuman action by a tin-pot government sets a very dangerous precedent, just like the silly 5p carrier bag fee did.

And the saddest part is that the most outspoken critics of this action are religious leaders! Jesus Christ, what have we come to when the people who believe in invisible beings in the sky are the ones leading the charge for morality?! Oh but don’t worry, these are the nasty religious zealots the left-wing humanists are so eager to get rid of before they fill your kids’ heads with nonsense (in their Church of England or Catholic school, where they’d probably get a better education than your secular state school anyway).

The arguments in favour of the bill? “It will save lives”. The British Medical Association praised the bill, also praising how Wales was “leading” the UK on the ban on smoking in public places years ago. The only thing the Welsh Assembly is leading is the march towards statism (and given the competition that’s an impressive feat).

It will save lives.” When that is the strongest moral justification for the monstrous violation of an individual’s sovereign claim to his own life and property, things will only get worse. I was going to make a rather macabre list of all the people who could be sacrificed if the end goal was simply to save more lives, but I won’t. I’ll leave it to you to think through the implications of this line of reasoning.

This little fiasco is, for me, a perfect example of the socialist mindset in action: erode the notion of genuine acts of kindness and compassion between human beings by assuming that such actions are a duty, not a free gift. Therefore, undermine the only genuine basis for human compassion (free will) by making charity a penance to be exacted for the sin of not giving enough.

Remember this the next time someone tries to tell you you’re living in a democracy. Did you give the State the power to lay claim over your body? Probably not. Even if you did, does any government have the moral right to take such a power even if it were offered up? Even if it could, do you have the right to claim the body and organs of another, using the government as your proxy? Does anyone group, no matter how large, have such a right? Does the number of people who claim your body change the fact that it is yours, your property, and no one else’s? Does any group, gang, minister, assembly, or representative have the moral right to make such a claim?

Only if your life belongs to the State by default. Which means that, after thousands of years of recorded history, having resigned tribalism to primitive corners of the earth, after the feudalism and despotism of the Dark Ages, having survived the Pharaohs and the Emperors and the Lieges, having outgrown the Divine Right of Kings and slavery, having fought civil wars to establish constitutional republics, having written the Magna Carta and the Constitution of the United States, having fought at least one world war against fascism, after seeing “The People” of communism intentionally starve millions , and “The Father Land” of German slaughter millions in its quest for perfection, after bringing the Berlin wall down… in the year 2013, in Wales, if you do not explicitly declare your body to be your own property, the State needs must take it as it wills.

It’s said the Welsh Assembly is “leading the way”. The scary thing is, where there are leaders there are followers.

More deaths from NHS neglect and the quango that let it happen

James Delingpole has written a great (and highly sarcastic) piece about the latest NHS deaths-by-neglect, and the failure of the CQC quango to even notice. He says quite ludidly: ‘if the NHS is the envy of the world, the world must be bonkers’. Here is one article about the original story. In brief, the Care Quality Commission, yet another public entity created by New Labour many years ago at UK taxpayer’s expense, wasn’t all that interested in care and quality, not enough to prevent the deaths of a thousand patients through neglect (and subsequently lying about the number of inspections it actually carried out).

Now, it would be all too easy to point the finger (yet again) at this atrocious socialist monster and at how it’s failed. I’m not going to use the deaths of innocent people just to make a rather obvious political point. But I want to reiterate two things:

1. Would this have happened in a private healthcare institution, or to re-phrase: is the NHS actually needed for the vast majority of people? I firmly say: no. The fact that the State has prevented this vital market from being left to evolve and grow naturally to a lucrative, efficient and safe one (just like…you know, almost every market which is left free), means that healthcare costs constantly rise (the opposite of what tends to happen in free markets), service and quality declines (the opposite of what tends to happen in free markets), rationing occurs and service becomes scarce (the opposite of…you know). Private healthcare is NOT so expensive because it’s meant for the rich, it’s expensive precisely because the government has consistently backed this loser and kept all but the most bespoke and expensive competition down. This beast is simply not allowed to fail. Like a race horse with two broken legs, the NHS doesn’t need a bandage, it needs a bullet between the eyes.

To answer my own question: would people ever be neglected in a private hospital? Of course I can’t say no. But would private hospitals and overseeing bodies get away with such gross neglect of their customers for so long, and then have their leaders retire on lucrative pensions? Just now, the government is debating whether to introduce criminal penalties for “reckless” bankers. But reckless heads of quangos are allowed to retire peacefully and rich. Why are the public not stamping up and down and threatening to boycott (somehow) funding the NHS? (It’s not the same thing, but council tax would be a good place to start.) When you think of the ridiculous (or non-existent) things some idiots in this country riot about, just when there is really good reason to cause a (peaceful) fuss and make our voices heard….nothing.

2. And this is the real point: no free-market supporter, no capitalist, would EVER claim that neglect would never happen in our system. No capitalist has ever claimed that our system would provide perfect cheap universal healthcare to everyone. No capitalist has ever made that famous promise of “no child left behind”. Why? Because those promises are unreal. No one can promise that, because the world simply doesn’t work that way. It’s like promising that it won’t get cold (actually that’s the sort of promise the Met Office would make), or promising clueless voters that under no circumstances can we allow this Bank Holiday to be blighted with rain. That’s because free-market supporters are in touch with reality. It’s called rationality. The world cannot be different just because you’d like it to be. (This is the single biggest reason why egalitarianism is evil.) Not even with a blank cheque and the nation’s funds behind you can this be done. The NHS fails, like socialism fails, because it simply cannot work. You cannot have a system based on supply and demand that doesn’t obey the laws of supply and demand.

But, as I said two years ago, after everything that has happened, after the evidence of history, after the countless deaths through neglect and malpractice under the NHS, after the pathetic waiting lists, the shoddy service, the terrible quality, bored unincentivised doctors and nurses, regulation after regulation, a national debt in the hundreds of millions, careless and evil commissions failing to do their job, and some more deaths, the Left will not be budged! It will still say: if we get rid of the NHS (or greatly reduce its scope) think of all the people who will die or not be able to afford healthcare.

And what exactly has your system given us?! See the NHS section of my A-Z links page; we are talking tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. Over the decades it’s probably a lot more than that. In the 21st century, old people are burning books in the back garden to keep warm because they can’t afford to pay the bills, or just dying in dirty hospitals. Babies are dying from neglect, but the Left still has the sheer bald-faced arrogance to blame private businesses and free markets for the world’s woes, and scream that we cannot possibly abandon “the envy of the world” and let our babies, mothers, fathers, friends, parents and the elderly alone to die. Err…and what exactly do they think is happening under their system now?! It’s like a Soviet commisar declaring that capitalism is evil because it cannot feed the starving people of the country. And that is why it is incredible arrogance, because none of these deaths ever, ever, makes the Left question its ideology, or even wonder if there is maybe some little flaw with its system. The answers it always proposes? More tax (of course), more regulation, more ‘reforms’, or another quango like the CQC.

In my opinion, most quangos are inherently open to inefficiency and corruption, incompetence and carelessness for three simple reasons: they are not directly answerable to their customers. They are not directly subject to the laws of supply and demand. They are financed by the State. I leave it to you to consider whether this maybe, in some tiny way, just might create a conflict of interest where objectivity is concerned.

tl;dr – the NHS yet again kills more people, a government quango yet again fails to spot it. National insurance will continue (and rise). The very thing that doesn’t exist and which will cure the healthcare industry, a free-market, will be avoided on the grounds that it can’t possibly care for everyone, everywhere, all the time, instantly and freely. And since socialised medicine can and does (!!) we cannot abandon it.

INILUDIBs – the must-have vehicle-accessory!

So I was driving again today on that highway of death, the place where this world intersects with the land of the dying, the gateway to the Nether World itself, the M6. Thousands of cars whizzing along at high speed, cutting in and out of each other, causing sudden emergency breaking, backlogging, tailgating and a general stench of fear and your own mortality, when it occurred to me: what if there was a way to make driving safer? Think about it: for so long now we drive along moving from one lane to the other, go around roundabouts where any exit could be ours or another’s, turn left and right a hundred times a day, and all we have to rely on is the gut instinct, pure intuition, or psychic reading of where our fellow drivers are headed. This may seem fool-proof enough; after all, you’ve driven that way to work every day for the last ten years, don’t other drivers know by now where you’re going?! And if you drive a BMW or Audi everyone should already know that you’re taking the second left after the first right which is where your corporate headquarters have ALWAYS been! And of course, once your wheels are half in the other lane, it’s really kinda obvious that you’re changing lanes. And when you’re in the left hand lane of a roundabout but you really want to go all around to the right, well that’s just part of the exciting ambiguity that is just part and parcel of mind-reading in metal cages only a few meters apart. Why take that away from your fellow travellers?

These are all good points, and it seems that this system couldn’t be improved upon. But it occurred to me: what if there was a way to notify other drivers of your intentions BEFORE you manoeuvred your vehicle. I know, I know – where’s the fun? Where’s the intrigue? Call me a miserable old spoilsport, but hear me out: every vehicle could have a set of lights on either side which flash depending on whether you’re moving, or turning, left or right. These intermittent illuminated directional beacons (INILUDIBs??) could be activated by the driver slightly in advance of executing his positional change, just in case the bad weather conditions (or glass) interfere with the psychic rays. Call it a failsafe, if you will. I know the cool radicals out there will point out what an unnecessary waste of mental effort and time that is, and I sympathise, but I really think we as a species can make the step-up. After a bit of practice, using these INILUDIBs (some smartass will no doubt think of a less accurate and more boring alternative, like ‘indicators’), we could make important and safe decisions much earlier on the road.

I don’t know the cost involved in implementing such a drastic overhaul of our automobile institution, but obviously the government should force car manufacturers to do it. I think it’s a good idea, it’s in the public good, and therefore it should happen. Once it does, it will become second-nature to drivers everywhere. After all, who wouldn’t want to use such an amazingly simply and efficient system? Only the suicidal reckless irrational careless discourteous ignorant misanthropic pricks of the world. And heaven knows there are none of them on the M6.

The BBC ‘TV license’ Tax

Having a tough time paying the bills? Council tax, car tax, road tax, value-added tax, tax on earnings, tax on savings, tax on your business, tax on exports, tax on imports, national insurance tax, tax to pay for the EU, tax to pay for foreign aid, tax for people who can’t work, tax to dig up roads and then fill them back in (oh sorry I said council tax didn’t I?), green tax, carbon tax, tax for other peoples’ healthcare, tax to sit in a waiting room long after your stated appointment surrounded by people who’ve never worked a day in their life to see a doctor who has to rush you in and out as quickly as possible (oh sorry I said national insurance didn’t I?), tax on top of tax. Is it too much? Probably not. Which is why the government has chosen this time to remind you, by way of threats, that it’s a criminal offence to own a viewing screen without a license.

Yup, owning a display screen requires you to have a license. I suppose that’s fair. After all, there are many things you need a license for: driving a car, selling alcohol in a public place, having gambling machines on your premises, manufacturing and distribution of narcotic and psychotropic drugs, practicing medicine. It only makes sense that, to protect the Rights of Televisions, you are required to prove that you’re worthy to take care of one. And by ‘prove’, I mean: pay the State a yearly fee which is given to its nominated broadcaster.

A broadcaster with an anti-industrial anti-capitalist pro-Green pro-EU multicultural politically-correct Left-wing agenda. A corporation whose corruption has been exposed time and again. A corporation whose interests and services aren’t dictated by a free market of voluntary customers, but through expropriated funds to push whatever agenda its leaders desire. A corporation that is neither brimming with quality self-produced British programming, nor particularly likeable, interesting or varied approaches to presentation, broadcasting nor punditry. (The latter is a personal opinion, but compare how the BBC does sport to Sky.)

So here is the latest video campaign to shame non-payers and remind everyone that failing to have a TV license is a criminal offence:

Of course, that depends how you define “criminal”. In my naivety, I’d have thought that a criminal offence is one that makes you a criminal, which means there is a victim to your crime. If there’s no victim, then whose Rights have I violated? And if no one’s Rights have been violated, doesn’t that mean a “crime” is pretty much whatever the State, without representation, says it is?

I’ve written about this before (and before) of course, and of the “excuses” that many innocent citizens give for not paying their license fee, the not-so-ridiculous ones that failed to make the video are: “I didn’t pay my license fee because I want to know…

  • Why should I pay for a service I don’t use?
  • If the license fee is not a tax for supporting the BBC, why does the money from the fee only go to the BBC?
  • How many households’ worth of license fees did it take on this video campaign to warn people not to avoid paying their license fee?
  • Why does an electronic device capable of viewing live television, which we already had to pay at least 20% tax on, require a license to own?
  • If the license was originally for owning a television set, when was it changed to include any other type of display device? Why?
  • If I don’t own a TV but a computer monitor, why does that require a license? If I don’t have a monitor but have a mobile phone, why does that require a license?
  • If I haven’t violated anyone’s Rights, why would I be considered a criminal for not paying the most laughable and audacious tax in history?
  • Why does the BBC not fund itself the way every other corporation has to: by winning and keeping customers?
  • Why is ‘so you don’t have to sit through adverts on two of their stations’ a legitimate justification for tax?
  • Does it not encourage stagnation and poor service when a business is not answerable to its clients? Why should I help the BBC to maintain the status quo?
  • If the BBC is so confident in its quality programming, why not let its loyal viewers support it voluntarily?
  • Would the government or BBC agree to give the license fee funds to another broadcaster, like ITV, Channel 4 or Sky? If not, why?
  • Why does the BBC’s collection agency pretend to have TV-signal-tracking equipment to catch you when it doesn’t?
  • Why does the collection agency pretend to have the power to knock at your door and extract the fee by force, when it doesn’t?
  • Why is a third-party collection agency used at all for enforcing criminal law in this country? Isn’t that the job of the police, when an actual crime has been committed? If you set the local park on fire or run over someone in your car, who turns up at your door: a private collection company or the police?
  • If a private company demands money from me for breach of contract, can you show me the contract I signed?
  • If a license inspector turns up at your door, do they have any authority to search your premises? If not, isn’t it true we can just say ‘no’ and turn them away?
  • Why does the BBC deserve to be the State-sponsored broadcaster of choice (not ours), paid for by the already over-taxed British public? Why does it merit this privilege? How does this not constitute a coercive monopoly, the very kind that the Left Wing BBC would claim only happens under capitalism?
  • Would it be fair to say that the license fee paid the wages of those many child molesters that went about their perverted business for decades in the BBC? And the wages of those who covered it up for so long?”


And those are just off the top of my head. Did I miss one? What would your “excuse” be?

I object on principle to tax, of course – but in our current society I understand it is necessary (for now), and wouldn’t propose to overturn it overnight. (I am not unrealistic. Long before our political system becomes freer, our culture needs to change.) There are many governmental services we should pay for. Owning a television isn’t one of them.

In other countries, such as Finland, the license fee varies based on income, with the very poor exempt. Although that’s not how it works in Britain, you have to ask: if it is a license fee we are talking about, why should it be connected to your income? No other legitimate (or even common sense) license is “progressive” in that sense. Why? Because there is no practical reality-based reason for the State demanding money for you owning a license. (If there was, they would give one.) The license fee is not a license fee; it’s just a hypothecated tax.

If there were a reason for this TV tax it would simply be: to fund State broadcasting. Now, as much as I would still object to that, I could stomach this far better. Historically, the reason that countries introduced this tax was for such a purpose, which made sense (in context) at the time. But the TV tax does not go towards State broadcasting, which might have a place in times of emergency or national crisis (but really, with technology being what it is and the amount of money the government has as its disposal, even that is a flimsy excuse); it goes towards the BBC! The BBC taxes us to keep itself in business. So it can keep pushing its incredibly one-sided Left Wing agenda on a public that by and large still seems to think of the BBC as an honest even-minded British institution, instead of the arrogant corrupt socialist monster of a corporation that it is.

The arguments in favour of the license fee are usually collectivist nonsense like this. Notice how the author justifies everything on the grounds of the Greater Good of Society. This is the sort of rhetoric that is claimed, shouted, assumed, without argument – just put out there and hoped it will be swallowed, because it usually is. He blames the “scourge of individualism”, and claims it is growing. Oh, if only! But he’s damn right it’s individualism, and long may it live! Anyone who needs to attack individual freedom because he doesn’t like the choices you might make, doesn’t have an argument; he has collectivist propaganda. He says: “just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.” Which of course raises the question: ‘so WHO does see the value in it?’ But of course, what the author really means is: ‘it should not be scrapped, because I (the author) see the value in it.’ To which I say: if YOU see the value in it, YOU pay for it. That is after all the only meaningful definition of value. Oh, what’s that? If you gave people the choice they might not make the right one (the one the author has decreed in his capacity as spokesman for the Public Good, to be the only acceptable one)? Hmm, can’t be much of a value if people don’t want to fork out £145 a year for it. Most people spend more than that on a weekly shop, mobile phones, games, sports, hobbies, transport etc. Funny how when people are left alone they don’t have much of a problem finding the money for the values they really want…

Which again just proves: there are two ways to make people agree with you: reason or force. You can’t have both.

Of course, there are countless ways for the BBC to be funded without a gun, but the author’s primary motive? He doesn’t want to sit through adverts. Oh, well, you’ll forgive me for not rushing to open my wallet because you don’t like adverts. What’s that word when you use the State to force other people to go along with your unreasoned convictions?

My personal opinion is that lawful rebellion has its time and its place. There are of course far more important things to protest about (like our involvement/support/invasion of other countries). There are more immediate concerns over which we should refuse to cooperate with the government (like wind farms, carbon taxes, the welfare state, bailing out failed businesses). But something as small as the BBC Tax is a good place to start. It raises public awareness of just how stupid this tax is, it makes us question this immoral behemoth, it forces tough answers to simple questions, and it makes those in power realise that they cannot pull taxes out of thin air and expect us to pay up every time. We are far too accommodating and obedient to our bureaucratic overlords in this country. Once we refuse to pay this despicable BBC tax (they can’t and won’t send everyone to court, even if they do catch you with their magical detectors), we can move onto the other unwanted schemes our expropriated cash is spent on by an unelected undemocratic elite.

Healthcare, Islam, Racism, Socialism – why I really shouldn’t bother watching the BBC

A young woman on a BBC question programme this morning was asked if she’s happy to pay for other people’s healthcare. She said yes, of course. No matter how much tax? Yes, of course. Aww, how very noble of you. But wait, isn’t there already a way for individuals to help others if they CHOOSE to? Yes. It’s called charity! Please think about that before assuming that other free citizens are happy to have their property taken by force to support your sense of altruism.

Of course, being a BBC program, it’s stacked with lefties none of whom would ever ever ask the question as to WHY the NHS consistently fails in the first place. Why prices rise, service declines, healthcare is rationed… whereas the exact opposite happens in non socialised markets… because the answer is unthinkable in their ideology.

And on BBC Sunday Politics, Andrew Neil interviewing Tommy Robinson, leader of the English Defence League. Now, leaving aside what you may or may not think about the EDL, the questions being raised are: Is Islam terrorism a serious threat in this country? Is Islam a religion of peace? Is the British way of life being threatened by religious fanatics, whilst political correctness is a shelter for the latter and a club of “racism” for the former? Those are very important questions, and need to be bravely asked and talked about.

Which is why, naturally, Andrew Neil spent the entire time questioning the EDL’s motives, actions, gestures, speech – bringing up criminal offences from 10 years ago of some individual members. Of course, when a Muslim murders a British citizen, we are told that we shouldn’t judge the Islam community by the actions of a few of its members. But when an EDL member does something bad, once, in his entire life, that means the EDL is fascist and rascist… Mr. Neil ignored all the rebuttals of Mr. Robinson, talked over him, repeated refuted statements, and made the discussion a personal attack on Tommy Robinson himself, and avoided the actual issues being raised.

I’m not supporting the EDL, but this was clearly another example of the multicultural politically-correct Left-wing agenda that the BBC has pushed for decades. They don’t want a discussion on religion. Who seriously believes the BBC is a fair honest British institution that we can trust? It never was, and it never will be. And WE are forced to pay for it.

And as for the issue at hand: yes, Islam extremism is a problem, and it is encouraged by left-wing politics. The cure is a free society of limited government that protects the rights of ALL citizens equally.

And to top it all off, we have a young Socialist on the programme claiming that capitalism caused the global financial meltdown years ago, which it didn’t, that Statism cured it, which it didn’t, and that the public sector gave us the internet… The free-market supporter tried to explain why the Financial Crisis was actually caused by US socialised institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but the subject was immediately changed and he couldn’t continue.

I really shouldn’t watch political programmes, especially on the BBC. I come away angry, frustrated, and incredibly depressed that so many people actually believe this nonsense.

Why ‘Prometheus’ gets it all wrong, and why it matters

There were a lot of things wrong with Prometheus (daft dialogue, ridiculous character behaviour, odd-pacing, odd-editing and incongruous music), but I’m only going to focus on the greatest error the film made: its ridiculous distain for scientific fact. I’m going to explain just how badly the writers got it wrong and why it matters. I almost laughed before I realised how tragic the tale is.

If you’re telling a fantasy story you can pretty much get away with anything. With science fiction, depending on how “hard” or “soft” you want it: you can get away with a lot less or a bit less respectively. Prometheus fails as science fiction because there is nothing more scientific about its premise than the Never Ending Story’s. But even if you want to say that Prometheus is a bit of fantasy fun set in space, it still fails because it contradicts some of the most important and established knowledge we have, just as any fantasy story that depicted the earth as being the fourth planet from the sun would instantly lose all credibility and connection with the audience. Similarly, even a fantasy about humans must depict them as creatures with two arms, two legs, and not, for example, 100 tentacles.  We know that the earth is not the fourth planet from the sun, so whatever planet “earth” we are told is the fourth from its sun, it’s not ours, and it’s not our earth, and it’s not us, just like we might connect with a 100-limbed fantasy species and even empathise with them, but if you call them “human” you’re just being silly. But imagine that a large politically-powerful group of people had a vested interest in perpetuating a myth that our earth is in fact the fourth planet from the sun. All the evidence notwithstanding, Mars is the third planet and Earth is the fourth. What seems like a scientific faux pas and bit of fantasy fun takes on a darker and worrying shade. Well that is the problem with Prometheus.

The basic plot of Prometheus is: an alien race dropped their DNA in the oceans of earth long ago and so created humans. This is about as scientific as saying that you can take a drop of blood from a dog, inject it into a giraffe, and expect the giraffe to give birth to dogs or giraffe-dog hybrids. The very definition of “species” in fact is a community that can only breed successfully with itself.

During the film, it’s discovered that these aliens called “Engineers” have a 100% DNA match with humans. This is either rubbish or meaningless, take your pick. If the writers were trying to say that the Engineers are genetically similar to humans, the match is trivial: every living thing that lives or has ever lived on this planet shares the same DNA. A lot of DNA is arguably junk anyway, but “there is more than 95% to 98% similarity between related genes in humans and apes in general. (Just as in the mouse, quite a few genes probably are not common to humans and apes, and these may influence uniquely human or ape traits.) Similarities between mouse and human genes range from about 70% to 90%, with an average of 85% similarity but a lot of variation from gene to gene…” [source] So if they have the same DNA code as us, so what? That only proves that they evolved on earth. But if the insinuation is that they are a 100% DNA match with humans, despite being aliens, that is nonsense because…they aren’t human! That would be like a forensic detective placing you at a murder scene 5000 miles away and 5000 years in the past, because your DNA was a 100% match to a criminal in the past, which is impossible, or matching you because you both happen to be human beings…

But, even if aliens could drop something in earth’s primordial oceans that could somehow mingle with DNA…even that doesn’t make sense because evolution simply doesn’t work that way. A few Star Trek episodes tried to do something similar with evolution and failed for the same reasons. In those stories, the premise was that evolution could be sped up and the results observed in hours or days instead of millions of years. This is such a spectacular misunderstanding of evolution that it makes me depressed just thinking about it. But before I explain that, let’s start at the beginning:

All living things on this planet are the product of common descent. We all share the same DNA and metabolise energy in the same way because those fundamental parts of life happened once, billions of years ago, and not again. All life is descended from very simple self-replicating molecules. On this planet, DNA eventually got this job and the code used is the same today as it was 3 billion years ago. (If life exists on another planet, it too almost certainly started with very simple self-replicating molecules, but it’s overwhelmingly improbable that it would evolve the same DNA code as Earth’s, if it even used DNA at all.) Today, there are thousands of computer programming languages because each was designed by a human computer programmer for a specific need. But in nature, there is only one programming language and it had to be modified and utilised only by trial-by-fire selection in the wild over a very long time. (Incidentally, the ubiquity of this one (and only one) natural language is another argument against intelligent design.)

The “Engineers” could not have any DNA similarity with us unless they came from earth, which they clearly did not do. But we didn’t see the Engineers dropping DNA into the earth 3.5 billion years ago (unless the opening scene of the film was supposed to be earth at that time…in which case I suggest History of the Earth 101 for the writers to give them an idea of what this planet was like so early in its life. Let’s just say Hell would’ve been more hospitable.)  But suppose the engineers got DNA started in the first place (which isn’t implied in the film) all those aeons ago. Is that any better? Nope. Which brings us to:

Humans look the way we do because on this planet we are a member of the primate family. We share a common ancestor with all apes alive today, and our nearest relatives are chimpanzees. The modern human being as we know it today is only about 150,000 years old. But, we didn’t have to evolve this way. On earth, countless unpurposed events directed life in different directions. To name just two: the great oxygen catastrophe and the Cretaceous–Paleogene event (which wiped out the dinosaurs) – two events which forever shifted the course of evolution on Earth, and which were unplanned and devastating in their own right. The oxygen catastrophe didn’t have to happen, but it did. A meteor didn’t have to hit the earth and wipe out the dinosaurs, but it did. On this planet in the past, creatures that we would call primates today found it advantageous to walk upright thus freeing their hands for manipulating the world. On this world, that gave them an advantage over their competitors in the wild. Those creatures which would become us developed higher intelligence as tool-using thinkers. But as Chuck from says: “it’s not enough to be smarter, smarter has to give you a distinct advantage.” It’s not a foregone conclusion that evolution will lead to intelligent life, although given time and the right conditions one might expect it to. One might also expect that intelligent life on other worlds would be analogous to humans as tool-using thinkers, using their appendages to manipulate the world and freeing up their bodies to evolve larger brains. But that is not to say at all that such life would also evolve from creatures that would look anything like primates – they could just as easily look like walking octopuses. Again, on earth – we look the way we do, not because some alien dropped some DNA in a pool 3 billion years ago (and most certainly no sooner), but because we evolved from similar looking creatures who evolved from similar looking creatures, all of whom can call themselves descendants of apes, who in turn can call themselves descendants of whatever small mammals remained (or evolved) after the mass destruction of the dinosaurs left niches in nature for new creatures to fill.

To say that aliens created humans is absolutely stupid because we already know how life developed on this planet and everything we know and have ever learned in biology, genetics and geology confirms it – just like we know the Earth is the third planet from the sun. And this makes the entire premise of the film pointless, (much like the Answers in Genesis website). It’s like a great mystery novel akin to the space equivalent of Angels and Demons, but the final startling revelation being: the earth is flat and the sun orbits it.

No matter how wild your story premise is, there must be a part of the audience that thinks “this could happen, this is how things might’ve have been, even if they weren’t.” For example, imagine a story where aliens brainwash Hitler to invade Poland. Silly, yes, but at least it can’t be disproved. (Of course, something isn’t proven true just because it can’t be disproved.) But with Prometheus, it simply can’t be true, because we didn’t pop into existence with unique DNA 150,000 years ago – we evolved from other species very slowly and share our DNA with all other life on earth. The story is not reflective or metaphorical, it’s dumb.

The only way to have Prometheus’s story make any sense as regards its DNA claim is to say that aliens created DNA itself and put it on earth 3 billion years ago, but even that doesn’t explain why the aliens are almost identical to humans: you cannot predict which path evolution will take because evolution, by very definition, is simply the change of gene frequencies in generations responding to the pressure of natural selection. Natural selection can be caused by sexuality and/or environment, but it’s location specific. The millions of varieties of life you see on earth today are only possible because it takes evolution that long to produce any noticeable change at all, especially speciation (although evolution on every meaningful level is an observed documented fact.) To illustrate this by contrast: if a species were already perfectly suited to its environment and its surroundings never changed, that species would never change (and evolve), not in ten million years.

But why does it matter? It matters because Prometheus is a major international release that completely abuses a wondrous field of science. It’s rubbish at best and slander at worst. It matters because there are people in positions of power who deny evolution because it contradicts their ignorant beliefs about the universe, and they want to push those beliefs on you and your children, by law, in the classroom. It matters because evolution is as established and beautiful a scientific fact as anything the human race has ever discovered, and it’s a travesty that it’s so badly misunderstood in the 21st century, so much so that most people who see Prometheus won’t even notice anything wrong with its “science”.

And the moral of Prometheus the film? Our protagonist Elizabeth Shaw regains her faith in god (of course, the personal choice of god of the writer, which is the Christian version). At one point she is teased about her faith with the claim “I guess creating life is easy…anyone can do it…you just need some DNA.” But that’s the kind of nonsense strawman of evolution that no evolutionist ever claimed! Life didn’t happen on earth because of some DNA in an ocean…DNA is only a coding language. It is genes that allow characteristics to pass from generation to generation, and NATURAL (or sexual) SELECTION is the only method by why nature can pass on some genes and withhold others. So no, you need more than just a bit of DNA…and that fact is totally ignored (deliberately?) by the writer(s) of Prometheus. Is there any other scientific field that could be so grossly disfigured and butchered by a film writer in this day and age and still get approved? I don’t think so. What do you think?

The irony here is sadly amusing: if the moral of the story was to have the protagonist reclaim her faith in god and challenge the notion that life on earth evolved naturally…it speaks volumes that such a notion was only possible in a fantasy land where the real world can be ignored and the movie script can make the impossible possible, just like the bible has the sun stand still in the sky. Most people don’t take those stories seriously, with good reason. But some do unfortunately, and they even try to re-write scientific fact to suit their beliefs. Some even use their big chance writing a Hollywood screenplay to push their creationist agenda on a worldwide audience. The sad thing? Many people don’t know any better.


Further reading:

The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. Not arguments, no debate. Read this if you doubt the facts.

Evolution at Wikipedia (if I were ever to endorse compulsory education this would be the second thing on my list.)

Other good critical reviews:


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