Wednesday, 9 April 2014

What The Ultimate Warrior meant to me.

I woke up this morning to the news that former professional wrestler & personal icon & inspiration to me, The Ultimate Warrior, had passed away.

Real name, James Brian Hellwig, later changed legally to Warrior in 1993 is one of those constants through my life since the age of 12, along with my passion for Metallica, primarily James Hetfield and my love for football, primarily Liverpool football club.

Now the character Ultimate Warrior was obviously a childhood hero of mine. Amazing energy, coulourful, vibrant, intensity, passionate, electric. But it is the man behind the character and what he embodied that inspires me to this day and has inspired me to write on hearing of his death.

Ultimate Warrior was something I could escape into as a young child/teen. I had numerous problems growing up, as we all do, and I wish to share none of my problems on here. There is never any room, or excuse for self pity.
But my enjoyment of the Ultimate Warrior character and the way in which he was performed allowed me that escapism I so badly needed at the time. This alongside music were my key interests growing up.

I saw on the screen somebody or something to look up to. I started working out as a result, inspired by the appearance of Ultimate Warrior and the changes that took place in my young body, allowed me to develop confidence and a greater sense of self.

Later on after Ultimate Warrior had retired from professional wrestling, I looked him up through the medium of the internet, intrigued to know what had become of the man who performed so passionately and intensely night after night through my formative years.

I was surprised and impressed to discover that behind the face paint and the plethora of internet bulls**t printed about James Hellwig, was a man of extremely high self respect, discipline, ethics and motivation.
Admittedly on a personal note, he was a conservative and I believe a Christian and I am certainly neither of those, however it was the conviction with which he carried his own life that impressed and influenced me so much.

Warrior was later to become a coach, mentor and motivational speaker. A man driven by the power of self. Of pushing your body, mind & soul to be the best in this life that you can be.

Just like his in ring character, Warrior the mentor was intense, driven, disciplined, passionate & unrelenting.

It was these qualities that inspired and influenced me in many of my endeavours from exercise, to drumming, to work etc and to allude to my past, I guess I turned to people like Ultimate Warrior & James Hetfield, who from the outside appeared to be positive, unstoppable role models at a time when my own life was lacking such a figure.

Whether people agreed with his rants or his opinions, and many didn't, Warrior had the conviction and self belief to do things his way, to improve his own life and those he cared for.

He left a huge mark in my psyche and I will always remember the influence and appreciate the passion and confidence his words & energy gave to me.

Always Believe!

Rest In Peace Warrior Man X

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Eyes open.

Last night saw a televised 'debate' between Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg & UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Now firstly let's just clear up the issue of this being any kind of 'debate'.

A true debate takes place between 2 people or groups of 2 or more people on opposing sides of a given debate topic. The 2 opposing sides then each give an opening statement staking their position on the given subject (in this case it was Britain in the European Union) and are then invited one after the other to counter the others claims, using hopefully, well investigated and supported evidence, in an attempt to strengthen their original claim. I should also like to add that a true debate is the exchange of ideas and opinions that can potentially, in the light of stronger evidence, change a persons mind on where they stand on a given topic or issue.

I, for example have traveled the political spectrum from the right wing, to the centre, to the left wing and now to a plain of frustrated indifference during my adult life as I have exposed myself to differing sides of the political coin and had my mind opened and educated, in the hope of seeing the bigger picture as objectively as possible.

So lasts nights childish back & forth of ill advised and ill informed ideas was as far from a genuine debate as I have ever seen. Lacking in objective evidence, wit & elegance, if you want a lesson in brutal subjectivity, propaganda, media spin & political opportunism, then give this debacle a watch. If only to educate yourself on how NOT to participate in a debate.

Two extreme sides of a very dangerous and devisive subject, neither one willing to open their minds to each other, or anyone else for that matter. This is as dull and pointless, yet equally as damaging and backwards thinking as public discourse gets.

Now whilst I disagree strongly with both men on their points of view and their approach, there was ultimately one sound bite that has stayed with me and bothered me.

That sound bite is Nigel Farage using the term 'white working class'.

The context in which Farage used this term, was in discussing the impact of recent immigration to Britain and how he felt it was damaging the 'white working class'.

You can read the BBC article containing the comment below

This language creates a number of issues. Firstly, whilst I hope most would agree that continuously dividing society into 'classes' is in itself a divisive notion, it is the added separation of ethnicity that really strikes a chord here.

Let us state a few obvious facts that shatter this thinly veiled attempt at making this an issue of race.

British working class, if we have to call ourselves such a thing, covers 3 generations of people who have since the second world war, worked tirelessly to rebuild Britain, embrace change, promote & increase tolerance on many fronts such as race & ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc. This took place in the face of the horrors of Nazi Germany and the rise of Fascism across Europe in the early part of the 20th century. This took place so that we may unite in as many ways as possible, so that we may never face such evil again. And the ethnicity of that 'working class' who took part in the rebuilding of Britain after WW2? Every ethnicity. Every nation. Every continent. Every sector of employment from cleaning, construction, health care, education, social care, banking & finance, hospitality, our own military. Full of people from all corners or the globe and all different shades of skin, speaking many different languages & sharing many diverse and tolerant cultures in the aim of preventing racial separatism from happening again.

So congratulations Nigel. In one sentence you have managed to fence more people back into little pigeon holes based solely on their colour. Not on their economic standing. Not on whether or not their families have settled in this country almost a century ago and contributed to our tax system, built houses and roads, laid pipes and railway tracks, taken care care of MILLIONS of sick & wounded since the formation of the single greatest healthcare system this planet has ever seen, the NHS. They were all 'white working class' weren't they Nigel? No. They were just 'working class'.

So let's be clear here. If recent EU immigration into this country is affecting one demographic of the working class, then it is affecting them all.

Also let's be clear that I disagree with Nigel on this point entirely. The British working class have been in the same position, there or there abouts, for decades now. So our generation can't afford to buy a house. Food bills rise. Economic disparity is rife. Energy is scarce (if you believe that, you will believe anything) and energy prices keep rising. Are those issues made worse by immigration No. No they are not. Are immigrants 'coming over ere and nicking our jobs'? No. They are mostly doing the jobs that lots of lazy British residents won't do or can't be bothered to do.

And those lazy Brits come in all colours and from all walks of life, just as the hard working Brits do.

In closing, let's do some geography.

Britain as we know it split from the continental land mass many, many years ago, long before racism was even a stupid idea, in a stupid human mind.

This took place, approximately 500 million years ago. That's roughly 499,900,000 years before human kind as we know it came to be.

Meaning that people had to travel to Britain to settle here. Meaning your family had to travel to settle here. Meaning there is no such thing as being British. There is no such thing as being from anywhere, other than Earth. People like Nigel Farage need to stop limiting himself and others to nations, flags & borders that only truly encourage fear & confrontation through segregation of peoples.

Love all people, where possible, hurt no one, in any sense of the term and look at the bigger picture, even if that means looking up and helping a neighbour. Be they English, Indian, Nigerian, Polish, gay, lesbian, disabled, rich or poor.

Stop allowing media to pen your intellect into such short sighted and short term thinking. Do the thinking and the educating for yourself and do not let people like Nigel Farage undo decades of progress and rebuilding, through such ignorant and relaxed terminology.

Peace X

P.S. Dear Nige (he likes it when I call him Nige)

The EU immigrants from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria etc.
99.9% of them are white. And working class.

Just so you know ;)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Death penalty debate

An interesting debate taking place thanks to a fellow blogger Jayne Crammond who posted up several days ago concerned with the issue of the death penalty and peoples views on it.

Here is the original article by Jayne:

There’s been a lot of talk about the death penalty floating about in the last few months, due to some horrible world events being beamed at us through the news. The Boston Bombers, the Woolwich murderers, the start of the April Jones murder trial. I’ve seen a lot of slogans and pictures on Facebook that suggest that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes should be put to death (which is a moot point in all but the case of the Boston Bombers, because although Massachusetts isn’t a death penalty state, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is being charged for Federal crimes which carry the death penalty regardless of where they are committed) but I wonder if the people calling for death and baying for more blood have really thought it through?
Firstly, could you say without a shadow of a doubt, that you could be the person to administer the lethal injection, flip the switch on an electric chair or gas chamber? Sure, you don’t have to, you aren’t the executioner, but surely if you call for death you should have the courage of your convictions? Could you look a human being in the eye with 100% certainty of their guilt and send them to their grave? I’m not sure I could.
Secondly, I struggle massively with the thought of how flawed our legal system can be. I have huge respect for police officers who enforce our laws and criminal lawyers who do their best to secure convictions, but there have been cases of innocent men and women being incarcerated. Imagine if we’d excuted Barry George, the man wrongly convicted of killing Jill Dando, who spent SEVEN years in prison before evidence proved him innocent? And what about Timothy Evans, a man whose wrongful hanging was the very reason that Capital Punishment was abolished in the UK?
Another thing that bothers me is this; I firmly believe that execution is still based on religious doctrine, the concept that a person will meet their judgement in the afterlife and spend eternity burning in hell. This is simply not an idea I subscribe to, so from my point of view, killing a criminal is releasing them from life and therefore the consequences of their actions.
I’m not saying that the system of incarceration is perfect; it puts a huge strain on governments, the rate of recidivism is ridiculously high with most crimes and, if the media is anything to go by, prison is less of a punishment these days with gyms, libraries and access to video games. But I’m not sure that I agree with the death penalty either.
From a very personal place, a real hot button for me is the issue of paedophilia. I recall a few years ago watching a Louis Theroux documentary based in a maximum security prison in the USA which contained some of the most dangerous sex offenders in the country and they were running a programme of rehabilitation which claimed to be able to ‘cure’ people of paedophilia and used voluntary castration as a means of removing urges. I firmly, strongly, wholly believe that there is NOTHING that can be done to cure a paedophile, so if these people are to remain a persistent danger to children, what’s the point of allowing them to remain on the planet? But, again, could you be the one to flick the switch?
I’d be curious to hear your opinions on this; it’s one of those subjects that I go back and forth on and never seem to come to any sort of conclusion about and I don’t know if I ever will, but I’d love to know where you stand on the issue.
The following is my response:
The death penalty debate is always going to be an emotive one and I always try to join these debates from as objective a view point as possible. Firstly Jayne this is an interesting read which opens up many other areas of potential discussion, which I would like to add to the debate.
Firstly in response to the recent media frenzy in the wake of Boston, Woolwich and April Jones, I think it needs to be said that reasonable dialogue on these matters, including the reactionary cries for the death penalty, need to take place after the dust has settled from these events. The media has a huge role to play in creating and informing public discourse and in my view certain sections of the mass media have behaved outrageously in creating folk devils and moral panics in the aftermath of these events from stirring up extreme right wing racist lunatics to the discussion of the death penalty.
As you rightly said, in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the Boston bombings, this will fall under the legislature of U.S. federal law which can supersede state law and impose the death penalty should they decide the crime fits the bill. Obviously in the Boston case, we are dealing with both murder and what the United Nations would consider an act of international terrorism, with the U.S. being the biggest player at the U.N. table. International terrorism falls under the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, meaning wherever in the world it takes place, the United Nations Security Council can interject and dish out penalties, including death, for these crimes.
Now personally I am against the death penalty for several reasons. My main reason being who gives another human being the right to destroy another human being?
The ethical implications are huge and as you said, its very easy for the baying mobs to stand outside U.S. prisons shouting and waving their signs, whilst someone else flicks the switch for them.
But under no circumstances does somebody have the jurisdiction to decide that someone else should die, in my opinion. There is no divine argument in this either. Religion leaves the debate before it enters the room as we are aware that it is a human construct and no legal or political decision should be made on the basis that we believe it is Gods will. Bringing God into legislation like this makes a mockery of reasoning, logic and structured debate to achieve sustainable policy and only reinforces the need for states to remain secular.
I am also against the death penalty on the grounds that very few convictions are based on 100% evidence proving a case either way. It would be a catastrophic step backwards for human rights the world over if we allowed ourselves to return the death penalty and then later were found to be executing innocent people, which as you point out was rife in the past use of the death penalty.
And finally on the subject of paedophilia, I fully understand the emotive nature of this topic. I couldn’t sit here writing this and assure you or myself that in the event of someone molesting or killing a member of my family, that I would not take matters into my own hands. I can’t say because I’ve thankfully not been in those shoes.
I too saw the program with Louis Theroux, as uncomfortable as it made me. From an objective point of view paedophilia is barely understood in scientific and biological terms. Why does it take place? Is it a sexual orientation? Can it be stopped? Science doesn’t yet have those answers, though I can understand peoples reactions to it. I personally think that the act of sexual deviance upon a child is worse than murder. As is rape in my view. People have to live with those events and the legal solution is not an easy decision to make.
In closing, I do feel that our prison system is too soft and whilst we have to pay to keep people there through our taxes, I would rather do that than become a state sponsored murderer myself and have my taxes contribute to death chambers. In the case of rape, paedophilia and murder, life should be life as punishment for the lives and innocence lost. And the conditions should not be comfortable either. Get them laying roads, railways etc to put something back into the society they have chosen to damage.
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Monday, 31 December 2012

Thank (insert superstition here) we're still here!

As we end one year and enter another, blah, blah...

We don't need one day to decide to improve ourselves or to make the lives of those around us more tolerable, but as our lives are so neatly squashed into neat little blocks (days, weeks, months, years) I shall summarize 2012 and possibly express my thoughts on the year to come.

On a personal note, 2012 was a hectic year with a ton of ups and downs.

It saw the end of Storm Of Ashes after 5 hard working years. After which I considered putting drums to bed, before being offered the stool in the Death Ray Cats, which was more fun than I could have possibly imagined and reignited my joy of playing.
Death Rays took a break in August and is currently on the tip of reforming and playing some local shows in 2013.
In September 2012 I was asked to join another band, Arjento. A metal band once again and a challenge at that, as drumming has most definitely taken a back seat in my life as I approach my mid 30's. We should be gigging plenty in 2013 however.

2012 also saw the biggest challenge I have ever set myself. In August I was browsing the Open University website and rather than think and think about it again, I just decided to take the plunge and enrol myself into an honours degree course. In October I began my combined social sciences degree and I can safely say it is the the most rewarding venture I have ever involved myself with. Not without its problems however. I still work a full time job 6 days a week, drum for 2 bands, have a long distance relationship with Lucy (2 years now x), as well as trying to see family, friends and have some kind of social existence outside of my books. My only wish is that I had done it sooner, however I guess that is just how my life has panned out and at a younger age I would not have had the discipline I do now to study and focus myself to the task.

The final quarter of 2012 bought with it a lot of heartache and loss. But in its wake, communities were reunited, hatchets were buried and a new appreciation of the present was realised.
Rest In Peace John Compton, 'Punk' Ben Fletcher, Kyle Thompson and Paul Seeley x

2013 brings with it the continuation of my degree and the completion of my first module in May. I am yet to decide upon my speciality however, so June onwards will see my study take a different course.
Along side my study I will continue to find more satisfying and settled employment.
Arjento and Death Ray Cats will be back on stage at some point, so bring ear plugs and beer!

Cheers x

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Charity begins at home. So give whatever you can.

Every single person reading this will be either directly or indirectly affected by one of 3 things during their lives.

1: Cancer.
2: Heart conditions of one type or another.
3: Mental health issues of one type or another.

I have at times found myself confronted by such ludicrous comments as 'It doesn't affect me' or 'I can't afford to give them my money' when referring to charity's.

It affects all of us and donating is either helping yourself or your own family & friends.

Below are links to some charity's that are close to my heart for various reasons.
Check them out. Nobody has to donate. Nobody has to do anything do they?
And what a world that attitude could create.


Thank you x

Monday, 16 July 2012

Just prose?

“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves.” ~Gilbert Highet.