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Emrys

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Current location: Scotland
Member since: Mon Sep 7, 2009, 12:57 AM
Number of posts: 5,654

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The Apotheosis of Apophenia: Conspiratorial Minds


What links the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy to Coronavirus denial? Otto English has found a pattern…
...

Apophenia

Conspiracy theories, like the history book on the shelf, have a remarkable habit of repeating themselves and those similarities can in turn spawn other theories.

Soon after Kennedy’s assassination, people began to pinpoint stark parallels between his and Lincoln’s death. Highlights included the observation that both men were elected 100 years apart, that both fought for the rights of black Americans, and both were succeeded by Vice-President Johnsons. Kennedy was assassinated while travelling in a Ford Lincoln, Lincoln was killed while seated in a theatre called Ford’s.

Many of these freak coincidences appear remarkable – until the brain is engaged. For example, much is made of the fact that both men had surnames that consist of seven letters – but then so do I, Timmy Mallett and Boris Johnson. It is a completely common occurrence, not a conspiracy.

The compendium and the theory are a classic example of apophenia – a term first coined by German neurologist and psychiatrist Klaus Conrad in 1958. Apophenia is a state in acute schizophrenia where otherwise unrelated details or random events are perceived, by the patient, to be connected. Latterly, apophenia has come to be applied to any situation in which individuals seek to find patterns where there are none. This is why people sometimes think that they see shapes in the clouds or in inanimate objects: Jesus on a piece of toast, or a smile on John Redwood’s face.

https://bylinetimes.com/2021/04/26/the-apotheosis-of-apophenia-conspiratorial-minds/


[For American readers who may, luckily for them, not know who John Redwood is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Redwood ]

Boris Johnson said bodies 'could pile high' during lockdown discussion

Prime Minister Boris Johnson did make remarks suggesting that "bodies could pile high" during a heated discussion about lockdown in Downing Street in the autumn, the BBC has been told.

On Monday, the Daily Mail reported that Mr Johnson had said "let the bodies pile high in their thousands" rather than order a third lockdown.

The PM denied making the remarks, adding that lockdowns had worked.
...
The comments are said to have been made at the end of October when England went into its second lockdown following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg says, at the time, the prime minister was reported to have had big concerns about the implications of another lockdown on the economy and non-Covid related health issues.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-56890714


The Mail story was well trailed on social media over the weekend. The BBC - and Kuenssberg (who's in the past served as a public mouthpiece for Cummings's thoughts and revelations) - belatedly giving the story legs suggests that the corporation's news arm feels it has a reliable source or sources.

I don't like giving the Mail clicks, so I went there so you don't have to unless you really want to:

Boris Johnson: 'Let the bodies pile high in their thousands'. PM's incendiary remark during fight over lockdowns is latest claim in No10 drama - amid spectacular row with Cummings

* Claims that Boris Johnson said he would rather ‘bodies pile high in their thousands’ than order a third lockdown
* Allegedly came after Michael Gove warned soldiers needed to guard hospitals
* Downing Street has strongly denied that the Prime Minister made the comment

...
It allegedly came after Michael Gove warned Mr Johnson that soldiers would be needed to guard hospitals overrun with Covid victims.

He agreed to fresh restrictions but his frustration is said to have boiled over after the crucial meeting at No 10 in October. ‘No more ****ing lockdowns – let the bodies pile high in their thousands!’ he is alleged to have raged.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9510133/Boris-Johnson-said-bodies-pile-high-order-lockdown-sources-claim.html


The reports of Johnson's intemperate outburst are lent some credence by his "Fuck business!" declaration in 2018, in the hurly-burly of the post-Brexit vote clusterfuck.

Cummings is obviously in bitter arse-covering mode, seeking to distance himself from Johnson and seedy goings-on in the Brexit campaign and government after being displaced from the inner crony clique in government late last year. The Mail, in the past a happy warrior cheerleader for Johnson and the Tory agenda, seems to have it in for Johnson at the moment, and it's not stretching the bounds of plausibility to conclude that Johnson's seen (by specifically whom I couldn't hazard a guess) as having served his purpose and is becoming more of a liability by the day, so the Teflon's wearing thin.

Gove's low public profile in recent months is also noteworthy, and given past bad blood between him and Johnson, Gove's past ties to Cummings, and Gove's thinly disguised ambitions, it's not a stretch to sense his grubby paws at work behind the scenes. I find it hard to cast Gove as some sort of Machiavelli in his own right, so I'm left wondering who's manipulating his strings (other than his equally, or even more, ambitious wife, the fragrant, frothy Mail columnist Sarah Vine).

Meanwhile, its envronmental impact is shamefully staggering:

Why Bitcoin Is Bad for the Environment
Cryptocurrency mining uses huge amounts of power—and can be as destructive as the real thing.

Money, it’s often said, is a shared fiction. I give you a slip of paper or, more likely these days, a piece of plastic. You hand me eggs or butter or a White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino, and we both walk away satisfied. With cryptocurrency, the arrangement is more like a shared metafiction, and the instability of the genre is, presumably, part of the thrill. Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency that was created as a spoof, has risen in value by eight thousand per cent since January, owing to a combination of GameStop-style pumping and boosterish tweets from Elon Musk. On Tuesday, which backers proclaimed DogeDay, the cryptocurrency was valued at more than fifty billion dollars, which is more than the market cap of Ford. Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange, went public last Wednesday; almost immediately, it became worth more than G.M.

The mainstreaming of cryptocurrency, as it’s been called, is obviously a big deal for the world of finance. It’s also a big deal for the world of, well, the world. This is particularly true in the case of the ur-cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Like Dogecoin, bitcoin has recently surged in value. In April, 2020, a coin was worth about seven thousand dollars; today, it’s worth more than fifty-five thousand. (It hit a record high of $64,895.22 on April 14th, but has since fallen off.) As the cost of investing in bitcoin has soared, so, too, has the potential profit in “mining” it. Bitcoin mining is, of course, purely metaphorical, but the results can be every bit as destructive as with the real thing.

According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, bitcoin-mining operations worldwide now use energy at the rate of nearly a hundred and twenty terawatt-hours per year. This is about the annual domestic electricity consumption of the entire nation of Sweden. According to the Web site Digiconomist, a single bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of power that the average American household consumes in a month, and is responsible for roughly a million times more carbon emissions than a single Visa transaction. At a time when the world desperately needs to cut carbon emissions, does it make sense to be devoting a Sweden’s worth of electricity to a virtual currency? The answer would seem, pretty clearly, to be no. And, yet, here we are.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/why-bitcoin-is-bad-for-the-environment

Boris Johnson says he will publish text messages to James Dyson

PM promised he would ‘fix’ tax issue for James Dyson so firm could help build ventilators

Boris Johnson has said he will publish his text messages and “make absolutely no apology” for the exchanges with businessman James Dyson promising to “fix” tax status for the firm to help build ventilators.

Keir Starmer accused the government of “sleaze, sleaze, sleaze” after leaked texts from Johnson promised that the pro-Brexit billionaire’s employees would not have to pay extra tax if they came to the UK to make ventilators during the pandemic.

Johnson pledged: “I will fix it tomo! We need you. It looks fantastic.”

The prime minister then texted him again, saying: “[Chancellor] Rishi [Sunak] says it is fixed!! We need you here,” according to the BBC.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/21/boris-johnson-says-he-will-publish-text-messages-to-james-dyson


If overhyped millionaire inventor Dyson hadn't skedaddled abroad along with his company after he backed Brexit, this controversial exchange would never have needed to happen.

Since the "Ministerial Code", self-policed by Johnson, is just a shallow veneer over vast amounts of shady deals and graft at high levels of government, it's unlikely anything much will happen as a result of this latest kerfuffle apart from the continual degrading of trust in the government, which for some reason doesn't appear to affect the Tories in polling.

Starmer and what passes for an opposition at Westminster face another in a series of open goals. Since the media look like they're unwilling and incapable of promoting and sustaining public pressure over the many recent revelations of cronies' deals with high-level Tory backers, including ex-prime minister Cameron, I've no idea what recourse is left to those of us who continue to look on in anger and disgust.

We have our votes, and some of us are lucky enough to live in places where they may have some serious impact, but that may not be enough to make much difference to the most corrupt administration Westminster's ever seen (and that's saying some).

Ministers veto reappointment of two women to Channel 4 board

Decision not to renew Uzma Hasan and Fru Hazlitt was made against advice of Channel 4 and Ofcom

The government has vetoed the reappointment of two women to Channel 4’s board of directors, including one of only two women of colour, in a sign ministers are continuing to assert their authority over senior media appointments.

The decision not to renew the boardroom positions of Uzma Hasan and Fru Hazlitt at the state-owned but privately funded broadcaster was made against the advice of both the Channel 4 board and the media regulator, Ofcom.

Both women were recommended for another three-year term on the broadcaster’s board, sources told the Guardian, with such reappointments usually waved through by the government. However, ministers have instead decided to seek new candidates, as part of a wider push that has led to the appointment of Conservative allies to leading media roles.

Last year, the Tory donor Richard Sharp was appointed chairman of the BBC, while Ofcom is recruiting a new chair, with the former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre and the former Tory minister Ed Vaizey in the running.

Although Downing Street has no formal role in the appointments process, sources suggested the decision was influenced by officials working in No 10. The government is increasingly blocking reappointments to public sector roles to bring in new individuals to organisations.

The intervention is also set to renew the debate over a possible privatisation of Channel 4, which has been a favoured proposal of the broadcasting minister, John Whittingdale, for many years. The Guardian understands the reason given for the surprise decision not to renew the two women’s terms in office was the need to fill a “finance” skills gap on the board of directors.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/apr/14/ministers-veto-reappointment-of-two-women-to-channel-4-board


The Tories' near-unopposed degradation of the BBC, especially its news services, extends to the channel that hosts what many feel to be the most trustworthy TV news programme, Channel 4 News.

Given the rightwing slant of most of the print media and their reluctance to pursue issues such as the ongoing PPE purchase scandals and any number of other issues that would be giant headlines if another party perpetrated them, it's little wonder that so many are looking elsewhere - for better or worse - to try to find out what's going on in the country and the world.

Islamophobic incidents rose 375% after Johnson compared Muslim women to 'letterboxes', figures show

Perpetrators abusing Muslim women in the street ‘directly referenced’ MP’s comments, report finds
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Monitoring group Tell Mama said the Daily Telegraph column written by the now-prime minister was followed by the biggest spike in anti-Muslim hatred in 2018, as his words were repeated by racists abusing Muslims on the street and online.

In the three weeks after the article was published last August, 42 per cent of offline Islamophobic incidents reported “directly referenced Boris Johnson and/or the language used in his column”, a report said.

Many were directed at visibly Muslim women who wore the niqab or other veils, who were called “letterboxes” and “ninjas”.

Online abuse reported to Tell Mama repeated the same words or incorporated them into pictures and memes that were sent to Muslims online.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/boris-johnson-muslim-women-letterboxes-burqa-islamphobia-rise-a9088476.html


This report's from 2019, but in the wake of the "independent" report on race in the UK, this finding will have come as no surprise to many of us, but may serve as a wake-up call to those who ever claimed that Johnson was merely giving vent to a Prince Philipian sense of humour and was simply misunderstood.

Prince Philip has died

https://twitter.com/RoyalFamily/status/1380475865323212800

The Royal Family
@RoyalFamily

It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.





I've just enough class not to speak ill of the very recently dead. All I'll say is that no doubt the bereavement and accompanying ceremonies and retrospectives will serve as a handy distraction from everything else that's going on.

Women's anger at 'abuse of power' during Bristol police raids

Two protesters claimed they were subject to terrifying ordeals at the hands of male officers pretending to be postal workers

The police have been accused of an abuse of power by using anti-terror style tactics against protesters after two young women claimed they endured terrifying ordeals at the hands of male officers pretending to be postal workers.

The women were caught up in a series of undercover raids by Avon and Somerset Police as part of the force’s high-profile investigation into a fortnight of the “kill the bill” protests in Bristol. So far 50 people have been arrested in connection with clashes during protests against the government’s police and crime bill, which will give the police wide-ranging powers over demonstrations.
...
Katie McGoran, 21, who left the first “kill the bill” demonstration on 21 March before any trouble broke out, claimed she was mistakenly arrested after a male officer dressed as a postal worker tricked his way into her shared student house in north Bristol five days later. She says the disguised officer and at least three other male plain-clothed officers followed her flatmate up the stairs before revealing they were police with a warrant. They then burst into McGoran’s bedroom and handcuffed her while she was only partially dressed.
...
The same day the police are said to have used similar tactics to raid another all-female shared student house in the city. The family of Grace Hart, who is 16, claimed she answered the door twice to a male officer pretending to be postal worker with a package for her flatmate. Her father, Paul Hart, said she became suspicious so she started to close the door. The officer, he claimed, then barged in along with a group of at least three other plain-clothed male officers shouting “police” and pointing Tasers at her.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/apr/03/womens-anger-at-abuse-of-power-during-bristol-police-raids


[X-posted by request from United Kingdom (Group): https://www.democraticunderground.com/108820418 ]

Women's anger at 'abuse of power' during Bristol police raids

Two protesters claimed they were subject to terrifying ordeals at the hands of male officers pretending to be postal workers

The police have been accused of an abuse of power by using anti-terror style tactics against protesters after two young women claimed they endured terrifying ordeals at the hands of male officers pretending to be postal workers.

The women were caught up in a series of undercover raids by Avon and Somerset Police as part of the force’s high-profile investigation into a fortnight of the “kill the bill” protests in Bristol. So far 50 people have been arrested in connection with clashes during protests against the government’s police and crime bill, which will give the police wide-ranging powers over demonstrations.
...
Katie McGoran, 21, who left the first “kill the bill” demonstration on 21 March before any trouble broke out, claimed she was mistakenly arrested after a male officer dressed as a postal worker tricked his way into her shared student house in north Bristol five days later. She says the disguised officer and at least three other male plain-clothed officers followed her flatmate up the stairs before revealing they were police with a warrant. They then burst into McGoran’s bedroom and handcuffed her while she was only partially dressed.
...
The same day the police are said to have used similar tactics to raid another all-female shared student house in the city. The family of Grace Hart, who is 16, claimed she answered the door twice to a male officer pretending to be postal worker with a package for her flatmate. Her father, Paul Hart, said she became suspicious so she started to close the door. The officer, he claimed, then barged in along with a group of at least three other plain-clothed male officers shouting “police” and pointing Tasers at her.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/apr/03/womens-anger-at-abuse-of-power-during-bristol-police-raids


[X-posted in Women's Rights & Issues (Group): https://www.democraticunderground.com/113812257 ]

Boris Johnson 'a clown' with no diplomacy skills, says ex-deputy in diaries

Ex-Foreign Office deputy Sir Alan Duncan says PM mistakes regular headlines for political power

...
Sir Alan Duncan, the MP for Rutland and Melton from 1992 until the last election, said the prime minister was “a clown, a self-centred ego, an embarrassing buffoon, with an untidy mind and sub-zero diplomatic judgment”.

“He is an international stain on our reputation,” Duncan added, in diaries that have been serialised in the Daily Mail.

The diaries, made into a book titled The Thick of It, cover his final four years in parliament during Brexit and Johnson’s move to Downing Street. Duncan served on the Conservative frontbenches for 18 years and was a former minister for international development.
...
Duncan also claimed he had had a row with Johnson over a press report about diplomats treating him as an “international joke”.

Johnson is said to have asked: “Why don’t they take me seriously?” Duncan claims he replied: “Look in the f***ing mirror!”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/03/boris-johnson-a-clown-with-no-diplomacy-skills-says-ex-deputy-in-diaries


With this appearing in the likes of the Mail, I can't help wondering whether the Tory grandees and backers are growing rather tired of Johnson now he's more or less served their purposes.
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