Six years ago Scotland voted to fuck itself

On the 18th September 2014 Scotland could have voted to be an independent country and take it’s own matters into its own hands. Instead we shat it, Brexit happened, and now we have Boris Johnson wiping his flobbery arse all over devolution not to mention the rule of law while the prospect of a second referendum based upon the changes wrought by Brexit is vague at least as the SNP seem unwilling to push hard enough while Johnson’s crazies wreck lives left, right and centre.

Realistically a referendum won’t happen this side of 2022, possibly longer if Covid-19 contnues as it is. People’s patience is strung out but the positives are support for independence increases monthly so by the end of 2021 we could be far ahead of the Unionist side who willl be losing support each time Johnson or one of his proxies like George Galloway belch some nonsense.

But we fucked it six years ago. When the next time comes we can’t do the same again. People’s lives depend on it.

BBC Scotland stop broadcasting daily Covid briefings because they’re putting politics before health

Imagine being so politically motivated against an opposing party that you use your position to put pressure on the national broadcaster to stop them broadcasting NIcola Sturgeon’s daily press briefing live every lunchtime. Which they’ve done so the First Minister’s daily briefing will no longer be shown live and the BBC will report the ‘important’ details which means of course it’ll be reported through the BBC filter and we won’t get the raw footage unless you’re watching it online. The reason given by critics is that its a ‘party political statement’ being broadcast for free every day. This has been the line from people like George Foulkes, the unelected Labour peer and of course, the Tories.

The problem is with this is that it’ll cut off large numbers of people from a direct source of information during a global pandemic where information on rapidly changing events, rules and regulations. Now there has been a narrative on the BBC at a UK level of late as to ‘how complicated’ the devolved nations are and ‘how simpler’ it’d be to have one rule for the entire UK but that would involve thousands more dead from Covid-19 if Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had followed the path of Boris Johnson throughout this pandemic.

And there’s the point. Waiting for the BBC to decide what is and isn’t important means it gets screened through BBC editorial processes which means details will go missing or misreported as we’ve now got to treat BBC Scotland as a propaganda arm of the Union supporting British establishment. This has hilariously ended up with the BBC reporting upon itself like a snake eating its tail.

The fact is this is a purely political decision taken to appease extremist elements in the Unionist establishment who put public health a distant second to doing anything to somehow make the SNP look ‘better’. What I don’t think they expected was the backlash from across the spectrum politically nor the comparison with Boris Johnson’s efforts which have left England in a state of confused anger at pulling back freedoms. One of the things about a pandemic is that government needs to be open and clear with the people or it’ll never bring the people with them, and this risks Scotland being pumped full of misinformation and the public as a whole. Take today where new Covid cases hit the highest in Scotland since May yet the BBC are showing a repeat of Battle of Britain Bargain Hunt.

So the fact is people’s health are being sacrificed because of politics and those who made this decision will end up rueing the day when this blows back in their face, as it is right now.

The waiting game

This morning I got up to deep throat a swab. It was not the most pleasant experience of my life but this Covid-19 business is not the most pleasant experience for anyone right now. The process was made stupidly easy, thanks mainly to this ridiculously easy how to video below.

Swabbing one’s throat and nose early in the morning is a wake up call I hope never to repeat, but now it is all about waiting but the god news is I get a few days off work. And if the news isn’t good I’ll have to deal with it which is not a prospect I look forward to.

Scottish independence is now supported by a majority

The latest polls for Scottish independence put 55% of people for, 45% against which is the latest poll which shows an increase in support since the start of 2020. This of course is good news, but if you’re a Unionist then the panic is setting in, and setting in hard because simply put if Boris Johnson is the voice of the Union then fuck the Union.

Of course it is just a poll, and the other problem is the SNP are seriously dragging their feet but the fact is people are on a clear path to independence, barring the diehard Unionists of course.

How did we cope with non-distributed comics in the UK

During the ongoing Covid19 crisis comic books have suffered as much as any industry, but here in the UK there’s some worry about comics not being distributed in the UK while still being shipped across the US. This means we could end up with non-distributed comics in the UK for the first time in over 20 years which means an entire generation may have to deal with what us older fans used to deal with all the bloody time.

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What I mean by a ‘non-distributed’ (ND) is that there was no mainstream newsagent distribution, which is the definition til the late 90s when newsagent distribution of Marvel, DC and any other American publisher ended leaving comic shops in the direct market as the only way to get your comics.  Since then ND comics are now just the occasional thing, so fans in the UK haven’t had to struggle but now we’re back to a situation where comics aren’t shipping to the UK or are in such low numbers they might as well not.

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How did we cope back then, especially trying to read stories where you’d miss a part would be annoying beyond belief, especially if it was an ending. Marvel’s UK reprints helped in this regard but often you’d have to wait years to get that issue you’d been waiting to read. If you lived in a city with a comic shop you might be able to have picked up the issue you needed, or if you managed to visit a mart or a convention you’d find a dealer selling what you need. The fact is even with this safety net you’d miss issues. In fact there’s still storylines I’ve never read all of. Steve Englehart’s Celestial Madonna run in The Avengers being one that leaps instantly to mind.

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So you learned to cope. Of course companies wouljd throw problems at you like in 1981 Marvel skipped two whole months of distributing comics to the UK, so everything dated February and March of that year are ND, which is why otherwise ordinary comics are worth sometimes vastly more than the issues around them. I remember spending years filling in the issues missing, even crap like Rom: Spaceknight.

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Of course with it being 2020 and digital comics being a thing, it is exceptionally hard to miss reading an issue but for collectors it is about having the tactile joy of holding a comic in their hands, though with DC imploding that might be something harder to do in future for readers of DC. So good luck in the months, possibly years ahead. These are strange, scary and uncertain times but as comics fans we will prevail just as we did in the past.

Now off to Amazon to order that Celestial Madonna trade I’ve been meaning to read for years…

About that ‘cancel culture’ letter

A letter condemning cancel culture signed by over 150 academics, writers, journalists and others. In 2020 this shouldn’t have to happen, but it has and although the statement is as anodyne in defence of free speech as possible, it’s been causing controversy as people say there’s no such thing as cancel culture while at the same time rallying behind calls to cancel people listed on the letter.  The letter itself can be found at this link.

Thing is instead of an open debate we saw what the letter is talking about play out in real-time with people posting just why free speech is under threat, and why a certain aspect of the left has decided to be just as authoritarian and censorious as certain aspects of the right. As an example, the actress Jodie Comer was revealed to be dating a supposed conservative which has seen the most appalling screeching nonsense about how she’s Satan incarnate, and of course guilty without trial, evidence or indeed, sanity from her accusers.

There’s the element of witch-hunting here, and certainly, there’s an obvious joy from some that they can wield such power (I’d recommend Jon Ronson’s book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to see just how dark cancel culture can get) that a young woman like Comer can wake up to a stream of frankly, insane bullshit about her private life. Then there’s the reaction of people who think Person A is guilty by association so they hold or advocate the views of Person B who they don’t like. Remember when Johnny Depp was attempted to be canceled due to domestic abuse allegations which eventually ended up showing that in reality, Depp was the victim rather than perpetrator? Now that’s readily forgotten as people support Depp in his legal action against The Sun but for a while there it seemed like the internet had crucified Depp.

Problem is when we now spend so much time living online and everyone is a cop trying to police people for wrongspeak we have a situation where there is no debate. When that spills into the real world, especially in an academic context so that debating opposing views is shunned, or worse then we’re diving headfirst into a dystopia where everyone has to conform for fear of cancellation and all that brings.

So personally I’m done with being associated with an illiberal section of the left who want to control rather than convince, and that lives are simplistic things where people should only associate themselves with other like-minded people. Ideas are not exchanged, therefore they’re never challenged and we leap on this course of anti-intellectualism as this culture war between the hard right and left knock chunks off each other. I fear for where things are going and I’m not convinced there’s a way to pull back however, the only chink of light is the majority of people still find this alien which is why so many of these types on right and left, have major problems when entering the real world. Hopefully sanity will prevail.

 

RIP Ennio Morricone

This one hurts because for all my life Ennio Morricone has soundtracked some of my favourite films. When I was young, I was allowed up late to watch A Fistful of Dollars and saw what is still once of the finest titles for a movie ever.

That music though was like nothing I’d heard before and I wanted more. When my parents said this was the first of three films I ensured I was allowed to stay up the next week for A Few Dollars More, however it was that third week with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which blew my tiny little mind.

You knew from this opening credits score that you were in for something epic, something spectacular and you got something transcendent at the end of the film. I mean just look at what’s going on and story being told here, all made to work thanks to direction, editing and of course music.

Then I caught Once Upon a TIme in the West some months later. The end blew me away.

But Morricone could do whatever he wanted in terms to variety. Here’s the opening credits to Danger: Diabolik with him in full 60’s mode.

Over the years it quickly became clear Morricone was scoring some of my favourite films, and sure, he could raise rubbish up from the depths, but he could add quality to quality, or take an average film and raise it to something else.

By the time he starts scoring Hollywood films, he’s already scored dozens of films. IN fact by the mid-70s his C.V. is enormous, but the hits still keep coming. Take a low budget Italian Z-Grade Star Wars rip off called The Humanoid. It’s a terrible film, but the soundtrack is Morricone experimenting with things like synths in a way he might not have with something a bit more expensive, and better.

My favourite of this time is for John Carpenter’s The Thing, which starts to ramp up the tension right from the start.

After that there were classics for films like Once Upon a Time in America, The Untouchables and Bugsy. All classic scores which pull these films into being something else, but in recent years he’s been scaling back the amount of work he’s doing with The Hateful Eight being the last big score most people will remember him by.

He’ll be missed because he was so varied, so good and just a bloody genius. I mean, just listen to his theme for Space:1999 when they released some edited together episodes to make a film.

Is the comic book market being manipulated?

Short answer, yes. However, watch this video for the points being made.

I’ve discussed this in the past but the fact is we’re living in an artificially created bubble for comics, and a big chunk of that can be placed at the feet of Ebay and of things like Key Collector App.

Having an app that lists key books is fine, but the problem lies is users manipulating data to artificially create a demand which isn’t there, so you could have an issue which has happily resided in dealers 50p boxes for decades and turn it into a £20-40 book overnight and there’s nothing key about the book at all. For example…

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Now this happened back in the 90’s when speculators would drive up prices artificially helped by the likes of Wizard who’d push books purely on spec, or if they had connections to dealers who had boxes of the things sitting around.

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Right now as well if you’re wealthy but can’t afford to invest in a Picasso, you can pick up a Batman #1 for much less knowing that your investment will grow. To make sure your investments do grow, you have to ensure the market as a whole grows which is why Golden Age titles are out the reach of most collectors, and now Silver Age titles are similarly becoming out of reach. Some Bronze Age books are now rising dramatically in value thanks again to speculators. In many cases it isn’t even because of rarity but an intent to create key issues and capitalise on the film/TV boom based upon comics.

If you’re a dealer this sounds great but the problem is if nobody is reading comics outwith of speculation purposes, then the medium suffers. This, like so many other things in the industry, isn’t spoken about seriously as it still is the Wild West in many cases.

Collecting comics is fun but making collecting prohibitively expensive isn’t a great idea to grow the industry, nor the medium and perhaps it’s time for the industry as a whole to confront the issue of speculators and maybe try to avoid the bubble collapsing which would damage the industry just at it did in the 1990’s.

Saving Dominic Cummings

By now everyone should be aware of the Dominic Cummings saga and how it is seriously interfering with the governments public health message during the coronavirus with beaches across the country rammed. The lockdown is compromised which bluntly, means people will die but Dominic Cummings has been unaccountabnle so far.

In any other situation he’d have been sacked before the start of the bank holiday weekend but we live in odd times and now he’s doing a press conference from Downing Street where he’s spun a load of nonsense which makes the situation worse. The lie about driving to Barnard Castle to check his eyesight is his ‘Prince Andrew can’t sweat’ moment.

Fact is there’s tens of thousands dead. People have made sacrifices. But Dominic Cummings can’t even say sorry because he’s so arrogant he doesn’t feel that people’s deserved anger at him breaking the clear lockdown rules is something to apologise for. So his job is saved for now, but people know a cunt when they see one and today they’ve seen a massive one lie to save his job.