Napoleon

p00w1tw2A wise old pig called Napoleon famously once said that all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

George Orwell lifted part of this directly from the fledgling United States of America’s declaration of Independence, a document which was written well before independence had actually even been achieved.

History tells us that independence was ultimately achieved though and twelve years later another document, the Constitution, was drawn up to act as the supreme law of this new country. Including its amendments its idealistic in nature and goes a long way to show how much the founding fathers wanted to break free from the shackles of the old world and to create something better.

Something not absorbed with the petty squabbling and continual wars which would or should have no bearing on this new utopian society.

Say what you want about America but its hard to criticise the intentions of the founding fathers and the pure idealism they adopted when putting pen to paper and then actually putting this theory into practice. In the 18th century they were creating the promised land based on the norms of the day. And people flocked to join it.

In retrospect its easy to say things like they were still engaged in slavery or that the 2nd amendment has lead to the crazy situation today where we have obese finger licking Texans walking around armed like they are about to do battle with Predator just because the constitution says they can. Yes its all too easy to criticise something with 250 years of hindsight.

You just try kicking the strongest army and navy at the time out of your country with a ragtag bunch of militias. And then go ahead and create a country from scratch. Using a blank sheet of paper.

Its not easy and the odd error should, in my view, be forgiven.

Normally documents like these are safely kept under glass, in a museum or the like and used to educate and inform. Documents like the Magna Carta, the founding document of democracy can be seen and studied. As can the declaration of independence and the constitution.

Quite right too, they are very important historical documents.

But that is all they are. Or that’s all they should be.

The current pantomime which is the US presidential election is gaining far more attention than it actually should. Whoever wins; Clinton or the clown we will have seen a seismic shift in the accepted norms when it comes to the democratic process. One from which I don’t think there is a return. The Brexit vote was just the start, Austria was a very close call, France is always teetering on the brink and now we face the prospect that the self proclaimed leader of the free world could very well be an misogynistic, bigoted, small handed, islamaphobe, with a penchant for sexually assaulting women, and bad hair.

That said, there is a part of me, a small part I admit, which hopes he actually prevails. Just to see what happens.

Every aspect of this election is being covered in microscopic detail, from the candidates, the differences in policy (or lack of policy) right through to the process itself and it was here that I very recently learned about the Electoral College.

The electoral college is a group of 538 elected individuals and it’s these people who actually elect the president. This select bunch of citizens cast their vote and the person who receive the majority, 270 votes, wins the election. Each state has a number of electoral college members allotted to them according to population size so California has 55 and North Dakota has 3 to keep things proportionately fair.

Keeping up?

Each member of the electoral college is then expected to vote in accordance with the voting in their state, but here’s the rub; they don’t have to.

In the UK you don’t vote for a prime minister, you vote for your local MP and your local MP most likely will be a member of a party. Each of these parties have a leader and whichever party wins the most MP’s wins the election and the leader of that party then becomes Prime Minister. Reasonably straightforward I think. There are grumblings that some MPs have more people in their constituency or less and thus the winning party might not be representative of the will of all the people, or rather its not proportionately representative but that’s for another discussion.

In the US though, they do vote directly for their president. Quite a difference and its this which makes me think an electoral college is a redundant concept. Why is it even necessary when the presidential election should basically be a referendum? Everyone votes and the person with the most votes wins.

By overlaying what they call the popular vote with the electoral college they are essentially disenfranchising the individual voter. Or as Mr Orwell would say they are more equal than everyone else.

The electoral college is a hangover from the constitution, like the right to bear arms, which were necessary 250 years ago but today, in my opinion, is in dire need of a rethink.

So back to this current, preposterous election.

What happens if say, Mr Trump wins the popular vote but the college decides that putting that lunatic into the white house is too dangerous? Which isn’t that unrealistic a scenario.

Given the amount of talk about rigged elections already, well before the outcome is even known I would guess if this did happen then it would probably be enough of a spark to light what is already a tinder box ready to combust.

So yes, I have immense respect for the founding fathers of the US and what they achieved. I also believe they never thought their words would still be used as a mechanism to impede progress, by their very actions they embraced progress and thus I don’t believe for one second they would be standing up to support these redundant laws. Because they would recognise they were written nearly 250 years ago in a very very different world.

Progress is constant and the laws and rules which underpin our respective democracies must be adapted and altered to keep up.

I am sure there are a lot of people out there who would disagree with me on this but I’m also sure that this disagreement would be grounded in the ‘what am I going to lose’ argument, be it guns, be it representation, be it tax breaks, etc.

I would strongly argue though that this cannot be the basis for law or policy setting. Ever.

The moment it is, will be the moment we are welcoming a pig called Napoleon into the White House, or 10 Downing Street.

And no matter how bad his hair is or how small his hand are, no matter what he says or how pink his skin is, no matter how many walls he promises to build or how many enemies of the state he fabricates to support a made up argument he still shouldn’t get your vote.

Because fundamentally, deep down and hidden behind an ugly facade, he’s still a pig.

Rampant Stallion

NiveaMy shower gel is called ‘Energy’.

No I haven started giving names to my toiletries. Nivea has though. And they made Energy, just for men, like me.

It has a scientific looking graphic on the bottle which looks a bit like a DNA sequence but I assume its supposed to signify that a lot of breakthrough technology and research went into creating the product. It’s part of their male product line so the design errs towards the industrial. The bottle is square and has a blue and lime green colour.

Energy I presume is supposed to give me Energy when I use it. I don’t know this for sure because apart from its name everything else is written in German or French but it smells nice and with a name like that what else could be inferred?

Does it actually give me Energy? No, it doesn’t.

It does get me clean though, assuming I’m using it properly. If they were just being honest it should be called Nivea ‘clean’. For men. But then that probably wouldn’t pass the first, or any test which must exist in the mens marketing department at Biersdorf.

So when does a product claim move from being just marketing hype, to lying?

How about all those moisturisers claiming to knock decades off your face or cellulite removers promising you the arse of an 18year old?

Do you think anyone actually challenges the claims made? I know its part of the cut and thrust of business to challenge the claims made by a competitor but has a consumer ever challenged such a thing? I don’t know.

It seems to be a normal thing nowadays for people to promise the earth then when it comes to actually delivering, ignoring the promise was ever made in the first place.

Or, when asked, using impressive linguistic gymnastics to say they didn’t actually say what you thought you had heard.

Think Bill Clinton explaining that when he said he never had sexual relations what he failed to mention was that he knew fully the phrase ‘sexual relations’ didn’t actually mean or include a number activities most normal people would consider sexual acts.

What would happen if the world was suddenly and without any warning invaded by aliens?

I’ve seen the movies.

What happens is they blow up a city or two in the US and then as an afterthought a few more around the world. The world is of course outraged, nowhere more so than the United States.

We see shots of cities razed to the ground. A second or two of dark people running around wearing turbans speaking a funny language and being vaporised before we return to the US.

Enter Jeff Goldblum, or any other geeky looking guy. He figures out the aliens achilles heel and suddenly everyone around the world is high fiving or the cultural equivalent somewhere else.

The invasion lasts about an hour and half and Jeff gets his girl.

Apart from a geeky guy getting laid and the whole nasty affair lasting less than the eco cycle of my washing machine I think this would be pretty close to what would happen in reality.

I say this because I think we are pretty good at dealing with sudden, need to be fixed now, problems.

Take Ebola. We are throwing money and resources at the problem because it’s an immediate threat. Its now, its in our face and we are dealing with it. In a short time the current outbreak will be contained and it will become another avian flu; something which was a problem a few years ago.

What would happen then if we had a warning from the Aliens and the warning said they would invade in 300 years from now?

Well, Jeff would remain a celibate geek, the funny foreigners would probably say something about it but;

  1. We don’t understand what they are saying and
  2. Shit, that’s 300 years away, chill.

We would do nothing.

Because most problems which we need to address need to have a four or eight year life time otherwise there is a good chance it will be ignored or, as in most cases, just pushed away.

If you are someone who wants to fuck with the current status quo of the world make sure you have a longer timeline than four years and make sure your approach is a drip, drip one. Build it up slowly. This way, most likely, you will be successful.

If you decide to stand up and do an Islamic State or fly an airline into a building or two then more fool you. You will lose.

Global warming, climate change or the environment, call it what you will is a perfect example of my point. The damage is clear, the science is even clearer but the timeline is less clear.

At some, undetermined point in time in the future the world will become an uninhabitable place. It wont be an overnight thing, it will be gradual. The slow spread of cancer has already started but you, I and the next few generations might not even notice. It’s the ones after that who will be pissed off.

That’s when the aliens really start vaporising cities.

Apparently democracy is the way to go. It’s the gold standard for running a country, province or even continent. We invented it, and still cant find fault in it.

We love it so much we have determined the whole world should have it, even if they don’t want it.

But it has its issues. Democracy is far from perfect.

Firstly democracy has no built in mechanism to hold those in power to account for the claims they might make before actually assuming power. Think the liberal democrats and their tuition fee pledge.

Apart from pissing off a lot of liberal democrat voters what’s come of that lie? Not a lot .

Secondly it lets the people decide and candidates can be re-elected.

In general, you, I and everyone else are only concerned with today, tomorrow and at a stretch our children’s tomorrow. Anything beyond that falls into the category ‘someone else can deal with it’ .

If the aliens tell us they will invade in the year 2342 I doubt very much the current campaigning candidates will be talking much about investing in an Alien defence research body.

What we need are candidates or parties who are committed to a single term.

What we need are conviction politicians who don’t care about pissing everyone off today for the good of tomorrow.

France is a great example of this.

France, the founding country of liberty and socialism. France, the country which invented champagne, topless beaches, arrogance and Agincourt. I also predict France will become bankrupt within my lifetime.

I say this because the moment any president tries to make changes to avoid this, the country goes on strike and votes as soon as possible for the candidate who tells everyone he is not going to upset the status quo.

So, the status quo remains and the country moves slowly towards the fiscal abyss. Gold plated youthful retirement schemes, an unsustainable private/public equation and all of it underpinned and supported by a powerful, unreasonable, unrealistic and often violent groups of unions.

Yes, France will become an economic wasteland unless something changes soon.

What France needs is a French version of Thatcher.  I know the resulting image is pretty horrific but I never said it would be pretty.

It needs to be someone who doesn’t care about public opinion, someone who doesn’t care about how hard or difficult something is. Someone who is willing to forgo getting re-elected in the interest of change.

But it’s unlikely to happen. The abyss I mentioned is not tomorrow. It’s not even the day after that so why would anyone worry about it right now?

I don’t profess to knowing the answer to this but I do think we are stuck in a ‘democracy is best’ situation to not see its flaws nor think about changing them.

Recently Scotland voted no to independence from the United Kingdom. It was a close run thing and a great example of the best of democracy. That is, giving the people of a country the choice to choose for itself, free from intimidation and violence.

The vote went no but the promises made to secure this no vote during the, often loud, campaigning verged on the desperate.

Now, after the dust has settled, what will come of those promises?

If a nation votes on something as momentous as this and that vote is based on promises made during the campaign then there must be, has to be, some form of recourse if the promises just disappear after the vote.

I for one hope they are kept.

I also hope we see more individuals who are willing to step up, change the status quo and then step down again. Because it’s the stepping down which matters.

Even Thatcher didn’t get this and outstayed her welcome. She should have moved aside after crushing the unions, but she didn’t.

If you know you are going to step down before you are elected. If you have no interest in being re-elected you will be removing the main reason most leaders fail.

If you are a person who believes what you believe. If you lay out those beliefs in your manifesto and you are elected on the basis of that manifesto. If you actually implement your manifesto without regard for the noise it might cause. If you are that person then my advice would be to run for office, apply to be an MP, MSP or even MEP.

Whatever you run for, I will vote for you and I will hold you to account.

I will expect you to deliver on your promises and if you do ironically you might even get my vote again.

Isn’t this how it’s supposed to work?

Anyway, that’s enough – rant over.

I don’t expect anyone to actually do this. I also didn’t really expect to feel energised after showering with Energy either.

Disappointment in shower gel and politicians is something I am pre-programmed to ignore. Its normal. It’s how things are. Why would I think differently?

It doesn’t stop me hoping though.

I’ve just purchased a new shower gel, called ‘Rampant Stallion’.

Lets see…..