Archive for Rants

Gamer what?

Do you ever hear about something and just wonder at how inane it all is?  OK yes this website I know.  But discounting that?

I’m behind the times a little on this but I’ve failed to come up with anything that can summarise the sheer disbelief in how pathetic something can be yet somehow still retain the power to cause so much upset and offence.

The thing in question is “Gamergate” (gg from now on).  I won’t go through the history of it as that’s been done by innumerous other blogs and news sites.  It’s about “ethics in videogame journalism” apparently.

Did I mention how inane it was at first sight?

Only it’s not journalists and game sites that are being grumbled about really.  Mainly it seems to be about harrassing women in tech.  One female journalist (NB with no issues regarding her ethics) has left the games press due the stress she was getting from gg; one female game developer had the veil on her private life lifted by a grumpy ex and death and rape threats etc etc; another female game dev had to leave her house after rape and death threats again; one female game critic (independent – not even writing for a games site) had more death threats, a speaking engagement cancelled due to a significant threat of a school shooting if she were allowed to speak and on and on.  Yes you read that right.  Years ago gamers were outraged when people said that games lead on to violent behaviour; now they’re threatening a school shooting purely because of an intellectual disagreement about games.  It’s amazing to see how spectacularly mis-judged all this is from the GGers side.

The one connection being damn all to do with ethics but because they’re outspoken women.

I’ve had chats on twitter and followed sites where boys have been up in arms about these women “trying to take our games away”.  But they’re not.  2 of those people MAKE bloody games for heaven’s sake. And of course you’ll notice that there’s no mention of any bloody “ethics in game journalism” in there.

So then let’s go their preferred route; ethics.

Thus far their ethics have consisted of threatening women out of the industry, out of their homes, and more recently laughing and gloating at them when one of their dogs was dying (not unreasonably she was concerned re poisoning, turned out not to be the case and she publically said so – but apparently she’s paranoid – after receiving death threats pushing her out of her home). Their ethics also include trying to get game sites shut down, trying to get journalists to write “objective” reviews (whatever they are) and getting advertisers to withdraw from certain sites that don’t meet their approval (read any sites that have a conscience).  Nothing wrong with a boycott of course, not that I agree with this one.

And they think they’re winning.  One web forum has people gloating that they’re winning in that fewer people are using the “anti” tag on twitter now.  That’s not winning.  The other side have left the game.  The “anti”s are enjoying themselves in the clubhouse having a drink before going home whereas these whingers are still on hole 13 arguing about a rules infringement that’s long been settled.  But the women “anti”s are being threatened with having their cars keyed (metaphorically) in the member’s car park if we don’t listen to these imaginary ethical concerns.  Enough of the golf analogy.

My favourite bit of the this kafuffle is the whole “objective” reviews thing.  Despite asking questions of them I’ve still never had a good answer as to what this would be.  Surely “objective” is measurable, unbiased fact.  Sounds good but what would this mean in practice?

“The game works and runs at a decent speed.  Controls are tight and responsive”?

A that’s rubbish.  Almost any first party game on Nintendo machines could be effectively summarised by that review.  It tells you nothing at all of interest.  And b: even that’s subjective.  I hated a game called “Super Smash Brothers”, found the controls awful, the game a waste of life and I, and friends collectively, came to refer to it as “Super Random Button Pressing Brothers”.  But it was well loved by loads of players and the newest version is likely to increase sales of Nintendo’s latest machine massively in the US and probably the UK and Europe too.  So I’m wrong then?  Objectively maybe.

So how would fillum reviews be if they were objective?

Transformers: “Bright and loud; shot well with clear dialogue; runs for 144 minutes.”

The Artist: “Filmed in black and white, no dialogue only music but they kept putting cards up to tell us what the characters were saying; runs for 100 minutes.”

Well that’s that sorted.  We know which is more to our taste.

I’d say we’re at a stage with games now that we can assume a certain level of quality on controls.  If a particular game fails on this meter then I seriously doubt any reviewer on a decent well-thought of site won’t pick up on it and at least mention it.  Again in fillums we hear time and again something along the lines of “I loved the fillum, it has its problems but these don’t subtract too much from the enjoyment” or “I wanted to like it more but its problems just kept rearing their heads”?  Happens all the time.

So then content.  The actual issue that many GGers have is that people are critical of the content of some of the games.  This has been true since the start of computer games.  Nothing new under the sun.  Hell even novels were seen as “a bad thing” (especially for women) when they first became popular.  Imagine an objective review of a novel:

“Pride and Prejudice: Clear typeface, x many pages, bright picture on front cover”.

So what makes games different?  Only that you participate really.  Nowadays there’s a story, there’s surprise, joy, upset, fear and more.  Do people really not want any of that mentioned?  Or how well those aspects worked to the reviewer in question?  That’s purely subjective of course hence not allowable under this objective system.

And all of this is happening at a time when the games industry is at its healthiest.  More games written by more people than ever are being released covering myriad genres and styles.  The turnover of the game industry is way bigger than the Hollywood move industry.  It’s worth billions.  There’s room for everyone.

Of course the big issue isn’t ethics at all, it’s feminism.  Women getting uppity and pointing out that women characters don’t get much of a look in in certain games.  And that’s it.

Apparently one of them (Anita Sarkeesian) is the devil because she’s pointed out that women in games consist of a: victims, b: eye candy, c: captured princesses to be rescued, d: cartoonish harridans and e: an occasional playable character.  That’s her thing; it’s what she talks about.  She doesn’t talk about outlandish representations of men in games because that’s not her thing.  But apparently being biased is bad.  So that condemns all of us as we all have our biases.

IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!

She can’t censor, she doesn’t want to censor, she wants games to get BETTER at representing women.  And that’s it.  Cue death threats, rape threats, threats of a school shooting etc etc.

Another, Brianna Wu, runs a game studio (hilariously the common refrain of the GGers is “If you don’t like games as they are then go and make your own”.  She does!) and talks about needing more women involved in tech, in the games industry, in journalism.  If that doesn’t happen she reasonably suggests that women’s voices won’t get heard so you’ll get a male only opinion constantly feeding back into itself, hence more very male games getting made.  AARRRGGGHHH, SHE’S A WITCH! BURN HER! AND LAUGH ABOUT HER DEAD DOG, HAH THE STUPID COW SHE HAD IT COMING. KARMA AT ITS BEST. ETHICS RAAA….

Yes again, we have someone who wants to expand minds and opinions and vistas.  She clearly must be stopped.

I’d never heard of these 2 and others before all this kicked off.  I’m a massive fan of both now.  Depressing to see how insular and infantile certain other folk can be.

(Of course I’m a man so I’ll no doubt be labelled a “Social Justice Warrior” or “White Knight” – both apparently perjorative terms for someone who isn’t a raving misogynist.)

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Oooohhher

This annoyed me.  Best news for the NHS in ages comes along (see here) which states that, yet again, it’s the best health service around (in lots of ways) and it seems to have been completely ignored by various newspapers whose political interests are not served by reporting it.  Bloody shocking.

So yet again, feel free to ignore those “The NHS is over-priced and unaffordable, as well as badly managed” news stories.  It’s nonsense designed to get people more amenable to selling the thing off – to which the only benefit is that lots of politicians involved get rich by moving to jobs as consultants in the companies that will the contracts.  We get a more expensive health service with worse outcomes.  Great swap eh?

Edit: there will be people who whinge that we came second to last in “Healthy lifestyles”.  Well if we pushed harder at the healthy lifestyles thing from government then those complaining would also be those most vociferously complaining about “bloody government telling us how to live, how dare they?”

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An unhappy Melody

I can’t remember if I’ve written anything about this or not before.  I listen to a podcast called “The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe”.  It’s a bit geeky, and could be shorter every week, but hey I’m very happy with a free product that tells me a lot.  There’s a presenter called Rebecca on it.  She gets a huge amount of flak online for being female and once saying “Guys, don’t do that” in a matter of fact way about being propositioned in a lift at 3am at an event where she’d been speaking about the harrassment and objectification of women.

This apparently was the worst thing ever to half the internet and she’s been subjected to frankly unspeakable abuse ever since.  What’s more depressing is that the people doing the abusing are self-proclaimed rationalists and thinkers and blah blah blah…

There are blogs devoted to abuse of her now, twitter streams of hate and invective too.  There’s even a formerly sane youtuber selectively editing things she says and putting out videoes of this contextless stuff showing her in as bad a light as he can manage.  And people are lapping it up.  Confirmation bias much?

It makes me despair for the future of humanity, it really does.  When people who think they’re rational can be this misguided over something so bloody trivial as a woman expressing a preference (as that’s surely all it was) in as mild a tone as it was possible to do then where do we go next?

Apparently to harass another woman who had the temerity, the bare-faced cheek to stick her head up out of the trenches and be a woman with intellect and opinions and stuff On The Internet.  I know! How dare she?!

Anyway this woman got the predictable abuse that every other woman who states opinions publicly gets.  At this point my knowledge gets sketchy for a bit but bear with me.  As far as I can tell she got a huge amount of abuse for nothing more than existing and speaking openly whilst female (I’m certainly over-simplifying a lot of details into that last line).  This has happened in the past and then we come to today.

It seems she has PTSD, I know nothing beyond what the trolls on twitter are saying now, it seems she has it as a result of the ridiculous levels of abuse she’s had to suffer at the hands of the trolls [please remember my caveat above].  Lovely caring, thinking rational people of course.  Oh I’m sorry apparently “caring” isn’t a trait that’s admired in their world.

Anyway she stated that she had PTSD.  And the heavens opened and fire rained down etc…

  • “How dare you diminish my broken leg by claiming you’ve had a broken leg too?”  Apparently stating that you don’t have to be a combat veteran to get PTSD means that you’re discounting combat veterans who have PTSD and diminishing their problems.  Excellent logic number one.  
  • “You can’t have broken your leg.  Mine broke when an IED hit my vehicle.”  Excellent logic number 2: apparently only combat veterans can get PTSD.  I must remember that when the woman I knew who was on “The Herald of Free Enterprise” when it rolled over kept “claiming” to have PTSD, and panic attacks and night terrors.  Oh and the number of people I met on mental health wards at hospitals I’ve worked at who’ve never so much as seen the inside of an army base.
  • “You didn’t say that your broken leg was worse than mine but how can you say that it is worse?  My broken leg is worse than yours therefore you shouldn’t complain about your broken leg.”  Logic number 3: If PTSD isn’t as bad as someone else’s PTSD then it’s not important or even exists.  Unless the troll thinks their’s is worse.  Apparently levels of diseases only ever favour the outraged.  As in only the outraged can have (or know someone who has) the disease badly.  Sigh.
  • “You have a broken leg?  No you don’t.”  Logic 4: “You have PTSD?  No you don’t” – diagnoses coming from all sides, most notably (and “not ably”) from the trolls who are of course fully conversant in mental health diagnosis techniques and therefore more able to make a diagnosis than this woman’s psychiatrist.
  • “Come on then, let’s see the xrays, the A&E medical notes and the police report to prove it.”  Logic 5: “Oh yeah then what’s your psych’s name then? Where’s your medical records to prooove it?”  Sigh again.  How many things are wrong with this one?

How wonderfully “rational” of them.

After receiving some of this abuse from army staff she replied that she would report the behaviour of these trolls to their commanding officers.  I don’t see anything wrong in that beyond maybe struggling to figure out who was doing the trolling, who their CO is etc…  If someone from a company was horrible to me I’d probably report them to their bosses too.

This was beyond the pale for the trolls though.  Not sure where their “pale” is though, as merely being female and public seems to be beyond it.

Cue more abuse.  Mis-reporting of it.  And more of the initial logical fails that I already mentioned.  And people already wanting to believe the mis-reporting of it storm in and on and on…

One of the goals of both Rebecca and this woman is to get more women involved with their campaigns.  With this sort of invective flying I can’t see why anyone would want to be involved, of either gender, if this lack of thinking, imbecility and anger is indicative these are people I’d be happy to avoid as much as possible.

Depressing.

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Customer Service

Thank you Barclaycard!

I woke up this morning to discover 2 text messages from Barclaycard.  One was sent at around midnight and asked me to reply to a query about account activity.  The second message was sent around 1am and basically said “As you haven’t replied, we’ve locked your card”.  Great, thanks.

Now if it was a huge thing I’d be grateful but this is for something that goes out every month and is for £12.24 per month.  They’ve also contacted me about this every month for about the last 6 months and every time I’ve confirmed that this should go out and yes it is authorised.

Been on the phone this morning instead of doing something else more productive.  Thanks again Barclaycard!

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Unexpected weirdness

Well this was a surprise.

I went on Twitter yesterday and clicked on a link to a blog by someone I respect and generally agree with, heck I even link to it down on the right side of this page.  He’s an American prof who’s big in the Atheist world.  Anyway he’s also a big fan of things being fair and welcoming to minorities and this would include anyone who’s not white, straight or male.  So far so good, completely agree.

So his blog linked to was about the World Sci-Fi Convention.  Apparently it’s in London this year.  One thing wot happens there is the “Hugo” awards for SF writing.  They had a coup and managed to get Jonathan Ross to present it.  Now I’ve never heard of the Hugo’s, nor did I know that there was such a thing as the World SF Convention.  If I were an organiser how would I try and get other people, outside of the genre bubble, to notice the event and maybe popularise it?  Maybe by employing one of the most famous (in the UK) presenters who is, not at all incidentally, also a massive fan of SF.  Not a bad idea.

Anyway apparently it all kicked off with people complaining that he was a bad choice and would put off lots of people, then one of the orgs resigned on account of the choice made, blah blah blah…

So this came to the good prof’s attention which he documented here.

Well what a let down.  Poorly argued nonsense from a base of ignorance which he even acknowledges with the rather pathetic “Who?  Never heard of him.” comment.  Well that’s fair; a US based writer and professor doesn’t know a UK TV personality?  Really?  You do surprise me.

Incidentally the whole “who?  Never heard of him” argument is exactly the same “How can evolution happen?  I can’t understand it therefore it’s not true.” argument that the creationists he rails against use.  A real misfire by an intelligent author.

But to get to the point – I’m well aware that there are reasons to like or dislike J Ross but he’s a bigoted misogynist, homophobic, racist?  Really?  That bloke who headlined shows such as Comic Relief (funds for Africa), Hysteria (awareness raising for HIV/AIDS) and more.  That he “punches down” in his comedy?  The link suggests 10 controversies (not bad to only have 10 in a 30 year career).  Number 1 – he made a joke about Heather Mills – context big hoohah in the media at the time about a very wealthy woman – hardly punching down at the disabled – in any case the joke isn’t about her disability it was about her honesty.  Anyone not seeing that is being wilfully blind.

Number 2 is clearly not “blacks should be working as cleaners” which his detractors are saying but clearly “black people are the people working as cleaners not as the talent” which could be interpreted nastily but seems like an objective report of the state of affairs to me.

I can’t be bothered to talk about the rest but if those are the worst that can be said about him then he’s not too bad.  Certainly not deserving of ignorant idiots all taking to social media to get him off the bill on the possibility, the possibility, that he might be a bit rude about some of the winners or contenders.  Utter idiots – let’s keep things pure, no-one who’s ever said anything rude or edgy or offensive in 30-bleedin’ years of an A-list TV career is now not allowed to present your thing?  Oh for heavens sake.

There was one author on Twitter getting all upset because JR “might” be rude about her weight if she wins something.  Really?  I see the point about wanting a safe space but this is bloody ludicrous.  That’s not wanting a safe space; that’s wanting to shut out the world.

Then there’s someone using the most ludicrous argument.  Apparently JR invites tabloids to peer at him and find fault.  Not really.  Yes when the BBC are paying him tons but not for agreeing to host a show for free because he loves the genre and wanted to help out a friend.  Now instead of a mild potential for a faux-pas (at worst) it’s known around the world, particularly to those outside the bubble, that the SF fans are ludicrous, reactionary imbeciles. Well well done you.

The imbecility of folk beggars belief sometimes.  This really has been the epitome of straw man arguments.  Here’s a potential bogeyman who we don’t know therefore he’s bad and will make us cry.  “This is a local shop for local people, we’ll have no trouble here.”  Ah Christ.

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Daily Paedo

Well the Mail seems to have gone off on one this week.  Having a go at someone for “associating” with paedophiles.  I have no clue how true the story is or what the nuances are but I do know that they are on a very sticky wicket if they complain about anyone but themselves.

The following are all taken from Mail stories in the last 2 or 3 years:

BhTepDKCYAA4SgP

Now that’s disgraceful.

 

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Not just the Mail

In the interest of balance I just needed to mention this.  Nigella Lawson is apparently in court today.  I’m not that interested in the story as it seems rather horrible to look at someone’s married life breaking down so publicly.  Anyway the Guardian, yes the Guardian, of all places sees fit to include the following line in its coverage:

“Lawson, dressed entirely in black apart from a white collar on her shirt, said:”…

Sigh.

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A bit of knowledge is bad for you

There’s been a very lurid and unpleasant news story doing the rounds this week.  In bald terms it sounds absolutely horrendous – so it’s perfect tabloid fodder then.

There’s a woman.  She was pregnant.  A “secret” family court agreed that medics could then require a c-section on her and then take her baby away.  Orwellian nightmare!  So says the judge who insists on the state’s agents explaining themselves.

And it is pretty horrible.

But the real oddity is the way the story was reported.  It all seems to be about the faceless bureaucrats merciless stealing a woman’s baby, helped by evil medics doing the state’s dirty work.  And, reading that link’s comments, this is how people are reading it.  Even Liberty seem to say that this is all horrible and they’re the bastions of uber-PC nonsense and protecting scum [/irony], so it must be bad.

On first thought though it does seem a trifle overblown.

Firstly the medics can’t force treatment on someone unless they’re detained under the mental health act.  So clearly there are at least some mental health issues in the story.  This is quite an extreme response so I’m guess that the mental health issues are quite extreme.  Indeed the last line in that linked story says

“Essex children’s services said a health trust had applied for the forced caesarean after telling social workers it had concerns over risks to the health of mother and baby. It said Italian courts had been made aware of the case and ‘social workers liaised extensively with the extended family”.

That sounds very thorough.  No doubt the county court weighed the evidence and came down on the side of the county.  Of course there can be errors but to contemplate actions like forced c-section I can’t believe they didn’t have some pretty urgent and valid reasons.

The judge asking them to explain themselves isn’t news – it’s what judges do – that’s what going to court is about.

And Liberty didn’t say it WAS horrible they said

“At first blush this is dystopian science fiction unworthy of a democracy like ours. “

Hardly the same thing.  In fact it’s pretty much what I’m saying now.  Sounds horrible but without the back story (which we rightly won’t get the full details of) it’s impossible to know.

And of course the flip side of this story could perhaps have ended up with a story along the lines of

“Schizo woman kills unborn baby after social services fail to intervene. Sack those responsible for failing to protect this child.”

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Biased BBC

I love the BBC, it’s brill.  People whinging about the licence fee don’t know what they’ll be missing if it goes.  Mind you there are always problems with an organisation like it.

Years ago there was a complaint that it was too left-wing.  Unfortunately for the righties the problem for them is that most people are naturally left-wing and reality also seems to be.  There was a study done last week that suggested that somwehere around 60% of tory voters would prefer the railways and public utilities to be re-nationalised.  Makes me wonder if they really know just how loathsome the venal creatures they’re voting for are.  Goodness knows what they’ll think about the dismantling of the NHS that’s ongoing now, when it becomes more apparent.

Good job they’re kicking public finances into shape then..   Oh what’s that?  The budget deficit has risen?  Quite sharply you say?  Oh..

So the BBC.  Some tory moron suggested the usual “the BBC is left wing” thing and darkly threatened it via ideas such as cutting the licence fee.

Anyway this left-wing bias tag.  Question Time was on last night.  One of the guests on has been on more Question Times than any one else in the last 3 years.  Must be a leftie then.  Maybe Tony Benn.  No too old.  Must be Dennis Skinner or one of the current shadow cabinet, or possibly Alistair Campbell maybe…

No it was Nigel bloody Farage (bloody is his middle name).  Rarely will you find a more left-wing agitator…

Oh…

 

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Hot air and imbecility

The IPCC report on Climate Change came out.  Frankly we should be bloody scared about what it says because if we don’t get our backsides into gear and actually do something it’s going to be terrible.  Start with intensifying storms and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters to acidification of the oceans (leading to the devastation of aquatic life as the smallest things at the bottom of the pyramid starve hence everything else will), to raising sea levels, to potentially major extinctions (some experts currently believe we’re in a mass extinction event now).  Bloody hell!

What’s depressing about the whole thing…. well how many things are depressing?  I’m not talking about potential outcomes, I’m talking about how it’s being discussed in the media.

The first thing is that huge numbers of normal folk seem to think that it’s all overblown.  Is it?  Possibly.  My opening paragraph will be read by some as hysterical nonsense.  Well that’s just a description of the outcome if the bods doing the science are right – the only questions there are “how soon” and “what can we do to stop it”.

And then the “facts” keep changing.  Do they?  Yes well inconveniently the surface temperature hasn’t risen much since 1998 – hah, caught you.  AND the arctic ice sheet has expanded this summer, hah again!  OK well 1998 was a massively hot outlier caused by a known climate phenomenon so picking that is like saying “computers aren’t getting any faster ‘cos the US had a supercomputer back in 1998 and my desk top isn’t that fast even now”.  And this is the hottest decade on record, and the one before that was, at the time, the hottest on record, and the one before that was the hottest on record etc etc…  And the arctic ice did expand – to the 6th lowest level ever recorded.  Ah but what about the antarctic sea ice – that’s expanded hasn’t it, they cry.  Yes, yes it has.  In area.  Volume however hasn’t, and major ice shelves are breaking apart like never before.  What’s so depressing about this tack is that every single one of the objections has been answered but people don’t want to hear it so they parrot basic unthought through facts as if they’ve landed a stinging blow to those who’ve spent years actually looking at the details.  No matter how many times they’re rebuffed they’ll keep parrotting nonsense until someone they’re talking to hasn’t heard the rebuttals and then they’ll both nod sagely and think how wonderfully clever they are seeing something that thousands of profs and PhDs haven’t seen (or refuse to see ‘cos they’re only it for the moolah of course).

So yes, apparently the scientists involved are only in it for their “lucrative jobs”.  But apparently the known funders of the denialist campaigns are oil magnates aren’t in it to keep their somehwat immense profits.  If you’re looking at funding then surely the billions profit to the oil companies far outstrips the probably less than £100k salaries of the very top scientists (and certainly dwarfs the salaries of the post grads and such – UCL’s website suggests top qualified lecturers get around £40k after many years of work).  Do people really think that scientists earn immense amounts of money?  Really?

And then it’s all about tax isn’t it.  Oh yes those sneaky governments just wanting to find ways to tax us more.  What an utterly pathetic argument.  That’s right yes the government just wants us to have less money that’s right.  Why?  Because they do.  Oh yes I forgot governments just want lots of money, no doubt so they can spend it on subsiding food and drink at the houses of parliament eh?

Such a depressing thought that I share air with such imbeciles.

So on one side we have a body set up by the UN, presided over by a multinational panel of experts in their topic looking at thousands of research papers, answering every single question put to them by the governments of the UN, yes every question no matter how banal or how often asked before, and kicking out a paper that has to be agreed on by the signatories – no mean feat in science (apparently scientists aren’t easily herded sheep unlike the masses).  On the other the fat bloke down t’pub says it’s all bollocks cos he read an article that questions it written by a journalist with no more knowledge of science than a bleedin’ slug.  And what good did scientists ever do anyway, with their frankenfoods and bombs and that?

Who are you going to listen to?  The level of certainty shown in the report is the same that says “smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease” and “HIV leads to AIDS” – there are denialists who think those things aren’t true too but they’re routinely looked down on and laughed at – because that’s what they deserve.

I’m sure it’s comforting to repeat the mantra “It’s not happening, it’s not happening” to yourself over and over as you slowly crouch into a foetal position as the consequences become clearer and clearer over time.  But that’s really not helpful.

We’re an inventive species – we can sort this, or at least have a bloody good go.  What benefit is it to NOT do something?  Well you’ll save some of that extra tax no doubt.  You pathetic moron, you have evolved intelligence, bloody use it.

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