Category Archives: Blogging

In defence of Katie Hopkins? Wait, what?

Currently one of the most hated columnists/celebrities/presenters/human beings in the UK Katie Hopkins does have some fans though they are probably fairly demented.  She has far more enemies. She regularly receives death threats and is parodied by alternative press, and most people think she deserves pretty much every response she has so far received.  Not only that but she doesn’t care what people think of her.  In combination with no tolerance whatsoever for those who she criticises, she has a remarkably high tolerance for any negative reactions.

It seems that her detestable personality may have a physical basis and that it could shortly be affected by a physical procedure to be carried out by open brain surgery to cure her of epilepsy.  Hopkins claims to have attacks that affect her on an almost nightly basis.  This is extreme given that most epileptics would expect attacks perhaps twice per week.  The abnormal qualities in her personality are similarly extreme.

Bert Park describes one of the mechanisms of epilepsy as involving “An inability to assign appropriate emotional significance to external stimuli.” This certainly sounds like Hopkins, and describes her explanation of her behaviour.  In the same chapter on saints and fanatics Park also has similar suggestions to make as a partial hypothesis to explain the actions and behaviour of a number of figures through history who fall on both sides of the line of good and evil but are all linked together by the exaggerated emotional response to external stimuli.  Joan of Arc being one example and Adolf Hitler another.

I not only proposed that the Fuehrer suffered from gallbladder disease and Parkinson’s syndrome but also suggested that his personality disorder might have been explained on the basis of temporal lobe epilepsy

Interestingly when watching video of Katie Hopkins she does show herself to have similar mannerisms and exaggerated movements to those which Adolf Hitler uses in his speeches on film.

After the conclusion of her current television series Hopkins is to make a choice about whether or not to go ahead with the surgery to cure her epilepsy.  She has spoken of a fear that she may die during the surgery or lose the use of one or more limbs.  She also mentions the possibility that she may come around to find that she has a Welsh accent or has become a communist.  While these comments may be tongue in cheek there is a very real chance that her personality may be radically changed after the surgery.  It is wise that she waits till after the current television series as she may not have the same outspoken views afterwards. Although it is also possible that her attitudes may have become such an ingrained part of her brain that they will remain even after the instability has been corrected.

In general where surgery is successful it is likely that personality disorders will see some improvement, the improvement being greater, the earlier it is caught.  Hopkins is therefore taking a risk by waiting for work commitments to be ended, but then as she has made a career out of having an abrasive personality that is probably a considered choice.  At any rate improvement will likely be gradual and in different areas of personality.  The irritability and anger that power Katie’s rants is likely to decrease, as is the spontaneity that often gets her into trouble, especially some time after the operation when things have started to repair themselves.  Looking at past results it seems that it is the more severe symptoms that are likely to be most profoundly affected.  At Katie Hopkin’s age it will be difficult to have as major an impact as would be possible with a younger subject but over time the new way in which the brain works will start to have an effect on the existing architecture.  The gradual changes that appear in the first couple of years after the operation will continue to a degree in the future.

When Phineas Gage’s head was penetrated with an iron bar his entire life changed. He had lost substantially more of his brain than is likely to be removed in an operation for epilepsy. People said this is not Gage anymore.

It may be that whoever comes out of that operating theatre will not be Katie Hopkins as we know her. Her personality may grow to be so different that she will be deeply ashamed of the Katie Hopkins persona. Then again it is also possible that she may become even more Katie Hopkins than she is now.  Whatever happens it seems a bit too coincidental at this point that she has a brain disorder and she also has an obviously malfunctioning personality residing within that brain. If a new improved Katie Hopkins emerges from the operating theatre then we may be able to look back on her time as a columnist and see that what entertained and outraged people was an effect of her disorder.

The reason she is on television might be very much like the way in which people laughed at fools, madmen and dwarves in history.  In one episode of Blackadder the queen reminisces about the funny people with bells who made her laugh as a child.  When her nurses suggests “Jesters?” it is revealed that the queen was actually thinking of lepers.  One of the earliest examples of compensation for injury in the service of the crown was given to a man who fell from his horse, not because it was intended as compensation but because it amused the king so much.  The manner in which disability and injury was treated in past centuries seems abhorrent to modern civilisation, in a similar light to the way in which Hopkins herself often speaks on television.  It may be that in our blindness to their being an actual cause for her behaviour we are guilty of having a similar attitude to the afflicted of today simply because we are unable to recognise their affliction.  She may have a disorder that renders her entertaining and is therefore the modern equivalent of a court jester.  Because mental issues are so much less visible they are far easier to deride.  Mockery of physical disabilities is no longer acceptable, I guess until mental disorders and personality disorders can be more easily identified people will continue to be used in this way because the state of their mind is easy to mock and makes an audience drawing spectacle.

I am not a fan of Katie Hopkins myself and do not think she should be allowed to say the things she says on television.  Her opinions step beyond the boundaries of defensible free speech because they are abnormal.  She does not represent any valid opinions on the subjects she discusses.  I do look forward to seeing if the surgery will create positive changes for her.  I can only wish her the best in that regard because in wishing her the best we may also be free of the negative persona that she has inflicted on us since her time on the Apprentice.  She fears she may die on the operating table but it is just as likely that if she does then a far better Katie Hopkins will live in her stead.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/07/31/katie-hopkins-brain-surgery-welsh-accent_n_7910418.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/katie-hopkins-inadvertently-raises-over-22000-for-migrant-search-rescue-and-medical-aid-operation-in-the-mediterranean-10191985.html

http://www.ok.co.uk/tv/katie-hopkins-rape-threats-twitter

http://newsthump.com/2015/05/12/pope-admits-defeat-after-three-day-attempted-exorcism-of-katie-hopkins/

https://patients.aan.com/resources/neurologynow/?event=home.showArticle&id=ovid.com:/bib/ovftdb/01222928-200703020-00025

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17904823

Bert E. Park, Ailing, Aging, Addicted: Studies of Compromised Leadership , University Press of Kentucky.

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Papal power in the 21st century

Everyone recognises that the pope had a great amount of power in the past.  It is relatively recently that Italy became a whole nation state without direct influence from the Vatican in the way it was run.  Looking even further back the Pope was the head of a network of influence spanning the whole of Europe that wielded the power of excommunication.  Go back to the crusades and the Pope was the guiding force that led Europe into a series of crusades to try and defeat the Middle East.

Those were the days of the warrior church.  In the modern era the ghost of the Holy Roman Empire is seen as an anachronism, a state without an army, and a largely harmless ideology.  While heads of other religions may launch Jihads, fatwas and the like, it seems as though the Pope is little more than an old man in strange robes who simply tries to encourage folk to live life according to the gospels.

Currently the Pope is one of the more innocuous popes.  Speaking out against capitalism and poverty it seems that this is a Pope who can recognise some of our most immediate problems and knows what has to be done with the greatest immediacy to effect positive change in the world.  He has given up the tradition of living in the papal palace and prefers to live in a simple apartment.  It is rumoured that he leaves the Vatican at night to hand out charity to the destitute whilst disguised in every day garb.

Despite all this positivity in the image of our current Pope he still wields an immense amount of hidden power.  In a world where even One Direction have the power to make hundreds of shops sell seemingly endless lines of One Direction merchandise, so that thousands, or millions of One Direction fans can buy money boxes, posters, cushions, mints, etc, it is clear that the leader of a global religion can create huge change with the utterance of a few words.

Thank goodness that we do currently have a Pope who seems to have his heart in the right place.  Unfortunately this is not necessarily enough.  One of the points on which most of the Pope’s critics agree is that the banning of contraception is not a good idea in a world where there are so many sexually transmitted diseases.  Obviously it is not good that people should pick up disease, or even die from disease, and a simple barrier contraceptive would help prevent this in the majority of cases, but I can see the Pope’s point of view.  It has been a long standing rule of the Catholic church that life should be encouraged and procreation is good.  It has also been a long standing view that sex without procreation is purely a pleasure seeking act.  When the greatest pleasure in life is supposed to be God it is natural that competition should be discouraged.  Beyond the usually considered dangers of unprotected sex there is also a further danger far beyond most people’s realisation, a danger that is very far from the kind of outcome one would expect to be encouraged by a church of any religion.

We are all agreed that STDs are not good but the less obvious danger is one that is caused by successful gestations.  At present most first world countries are experiencing a gradual growth in population due to the advantages of the modern world.  In poorer areas of the world there will soon be a much greater amount of growth that could become an issue.  China has for a long time had its rule against more than one child per family; India has one of the most incredibly packed populations in the world.  In Africa great numbers of children are common for the same reason as they were in Victorian England, they offer the best chance of having children survive to adulthood.  Currently population is kept small by diseases but we are rapidly finding ways to cure and prevent these diseases.  We are also finding ways in which to increase food yields.  These are all good things that we should be doing but as more and more of the world’s Catholics are lifted out of a state of nature there are more and more people who do not have the option of prophylactics to prevent large families.

Every life is a blessing and as any parent knows, their children are wonderful, but it is plain to see that some, due to circumstance, do not end up leading lives as positive as others.   This is largely due to attempts to escape poverty or achieve better than that which fate has offered.  A lot of us know what poverty feels like and a lot of us know there are better things out there than we have in our lives.  Some people end up living like emperors.  It is hardly surprising there should be a little jealousy.  Recent years have seen the occupy movement and the recognition of the 1%.  If this is the reaction of the citizens in the first world to the wealthy few who take the majority of the wealth then just imagine what the swelling populations of the poorer nations will feel like when they discover the riches claimed by those few, or even the comfort that many of our poorer people live in by comparison to so many others in the world.

Those folk who have to walk five miles per day to fetch clean water, and who spend most of their income on just enough food to stay alive already know that there are other folk in other nations who are far better off.  It is largely accepted that this is simply the way things are.  Soon, however, with greater leaps in agriculture and better understanding of medicine there will be far larger populations within these areas.  We know from observation of the behaviour in overpopulated areas of our own countries that people become hardened to humanity when there is just so damn much of humanity around.  The appearance of a disgruntled class of people who will begin to feel as though perhaps they have the numbers to take some of that wealth from the greedier nations is almost inevitable.

By insisting on the papal ban of contraception the Pope is likely to be able to add huge numbers to the armies of the future.  By ensuring that there are huge families growing in nations where religion is taken more seriously the Pope is ensuring that there will be hungry and disgruntled young people looking for a way out of poverty at just about the same time that the population growth in the west will most likely be slowing or even reversing.  There may be vast power shifts in our future and they may be vastly exacerbated by this one small proclamation.

Today’s blog has not been optimised for Search Engines

Search Engine Optimisation is an unusual art.  Do you remember the days when you would do a web search and the first page you would click on would simply be a list of all the words you could think of that just happened to include your search terms.  Nowadays of course you can present a website of any sort of content and then simply put your wordlist in the metatags; a mild improvement.  I recently started ditching my independent websites when one of them, a wiki, was taken over by what must have been content introduced by bots.  I assume it was bots because otherwise someone really had too much time on their hands and too little talent to spend it creating anything original.  I am sure there was some esoteric reason for filling up gigabytes of space with complete garbage but I have no idea what it was.   Of course, filling up gigabytes of space with complete garbage is a trade for some people, usually attached to an income from advertising.  A recent trend has been to draw in people with click bait, such as ‘you will never believe the totally amazing thing that this girl does with her swimming costume’, ‘List of the top ten most awesome ways to get your perfect job’ or ‘Scientists discover that using toothpaste has been linked to death in your sleep’.  Most of the times the titles are misleading, not totally amazing, not difficult to believe, etc.  People still click on them though and for that reason the web is becoming overwhelmed with them, especially when the popularity of a link is part of what pushes it up the search rankings to make it more easily visible and therefore more often clicked so that the problem self perpetuates.   A lot of the time the people writing these articles are probably talented writers but like everyone else in the modern world have had to put their ethics and morals to one side in order to obey rules blindly in the short term rush to grab profits.  Websites claiming to be focussed on business are likely to be doing top tens of skimpiest bathing costumes and websites claiming to be focussed on technology are writing misleading headlines that show a complete misunderstanding of an underlying scientific discovery.   The overall effect is a lowering of quality on the internet.  Little wonder that newspapers are disappearing behind paywalls when they find that their quality journalism is being ignored 9 times out of ten by people who have latched onto a ridiculous story that looks like it should have been printed in the Sunday Sport or the Enquirer.  Little wonder that the quality of journalism in the quality press is also dropping.  There are a few quality magazines/papers left and they seem to be as big in paper as they are on the web.  To be on the web is a great way to become lost in an electronic forest amongst the noise of a billion digital trees of rapidly changing cultural memes.  There is no way to really know what will rise to the surface but in general it will be whichever items have made the greatest use of SEO.   Things will change though.  Just like the height of SEO sophistication at the turn of the century was to simply fill a webpage with the contents of a dictionary, we will find that the tricks being utilised today will eventually be picked apart by advanced search algorithms.  Even using a few fresh ideas of how to aim searches could radically alter the way in which we search the web.  As computers become better at filtering out the garbage a lot of the unworthy rubbish that wastes our time will begin to disappear.  Even learning to really use the search boxes in our browsers a little better could allow us to banish a lot of the things that annoy us.   In ten years we may be able to create our own filter bubbles to let us see only the things we want to see.  Much like we can now ask Google to show web results or news results or video results perhaps we will be able to set up our own advanced tabs where we simply click once and suddenly all the cats in boxes are gone and they have taken with them all the candidates for America’s funniest home videos and every mention of what Miley Cyrus did last week.  We can already have a lot of control with advanced search on Google.  Some of the other search engines also offer differing degrees of control but it all takes trouble and thought to craft every search. One day all the trouble that has been take with choosing all the right SEO terms and putting in links to pertinent places may all have been for nothing.  In the short term the sites have certainly gotten the attention they wanted but maybe the tarmac of dross that covers the surface of the internet will begin to crack as weeds start to find their way through into your searches, soon grasses and trees will start to push the tarmac apart and maybe the dross will be replaced by a flourishing ecosystem of information and data, the way the internet should have been, the kind of internet that can change the world.  Perhaps this blog might even be read by some people then instead of them spending their time watching Ray William Johnson telling a dick joke.   Today’s post was inspired by this page from ClickZ – http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2354997/is-seo-dead

Jimmy Savile and the Reality Distortion Field.

It is shocking to read the information that has been coming out at the inquiry into the activities of Jimmy Savile.  A lot of what has been said implies further actions that cannot be proven.  A child taken by Savile who is not seen alive again; admissions of strange behaviour in the morgue and abuse of bodies; the keeping of trophies taken from the dead; connections with children’s homes where sexual and physical abuse was now known to be rife.  Worst of all is the fact that all this latest information is only that which is associated with his behaviour within the hospital system.  There is such a huge amount of abhorrent behaviour that it is easy to forget that he would have led a similar life out in the rest of the world.

A lot of the claims being made against Savile in the NHS reports being discussed at Leeds General Infirmary sound so outlandish that if it weren’t known that this is an official inquiry it would be easy to believe that a lot of his behaviour was nothing more than urban legend surrounding a vile criminal.  As it is, the truth is that he very probably did not just the things that have been claimed in the NHS reports but also much else besides.  

Inevitably where there is a likelihood of making financial claims against his estate and claims in tort against the hospital services that enabled him there will be people trying to take advantage of this.  Even if there is no one trying to take advantage there will be a perception that people will try to take advantage.  For this reason each claim of abuse will have to be examined to determine that the claimant is not simply making things up.  Another inevitability is that a lot of real claims may not have the requisite level of proof to satisfy an investigation.  When many of the victims were already dead there is even less proof; dead men tell no tales.

The police have identified fewer than 300 crimes according to one of the reports I have read today.  Over the long life of Jimmy Savile this would not even represent the tip of the iceberg.  Anecdotally, sexual assault was literally something that Savile habitually committed with a far greater frequency than anyone I know has ever had hot dinners.

When I first started investigating Savile I was struck by the coincidences surrounding his connections with The Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.  One of the victims was left just outside Savile’s home; another was left inside the grounds of a hospital, not one of the hospitals with which Savile was intimately associated, but that would be stupid, however it would certainly cross his mind that a hospital’s grounds would be a reasonable place to dump a body; another victim left at a location that even shared Savile’s name, sadistic humour?  Savile’s friendship with Sutcliffe at Broadmoor; the fact that during Sutcliffe’s teenage years Savile was the manager in one of the local clubs Sutcliffe may well have frequented.  As if all these coincidences weren’t enough I later discovered that during the investigation into the murders Savile was even accused by an anonymous tip off.

I am certain that the crimes of Savile go far further than we will ever be able to prove, far further than we will ever even be able to suspect.  What interests me now is how he could ever have managed to get away with it for so long.  If anyone were to commit half the atrocities the police are certain about they would ordinarily have spent most of their lives in prison.  Savile has been described as being perceived as a National Treasure despite the fact that so many people knew about his personality traits that everything short of public accusations had been made on television.  Somehow he sustained his image as the kindly millionaire doing a lot of work for charity right up until his death.  Once he was gone the house of cards collapsed.

An expression associated with the late Steve Jobs was the ‘reality distortion field’.  Steve Jobs was able to assert his personality so strongly that he could make the impossible real.  His engineers knew that the things he asked of them could often not be done.  Steve asserted that they would be done anyway.  By the time of Steve Job’s death the things they had made were of such excellence that they had reshaped the technological landscape and made his company the most valuable company in the world.  Steve travelled in India in his youth, spent a lot of time meditating, and had claimed to have been enlightened.  These are all the sort of things that one would expect to hear from the sort of person who could have an ability to shape reality with the force of his own personality.  

Steve had the backing of the traditions of eastern mysticism and ancient belief systems in the qualities he used to change the world.  It seems to me that Jimmy Savile exercised a dark counterpart to this reality distortion field.  He could seemingly do whatever he pleased and never be caught.  It was so obvious that his behaviour was conducted in full view of the British public.  He was a regular fixture on British television, often with children sitting on his knee, often with his arms around scantily clad teenagers on Top of the Pops.  He made open admissions of some of the things he did to nurses in the hospitals.  Many of the things he did there were well known to them; he had a reputation.  Yet it was only after his death when his personality was no longer there to exert its influence that the reality distortion field came crashing down.

This all sounds a bit esoteric and I apologise for that.  I am making no supernatural claims about either man.  I am merely observing that there is a similarity in their two vastly contrasting contributions to mankind, a similarity that could certainly appear to more primitive minds to have supernatural explanations.  The psychology behind whatever allows for such forceful personalities to extend beyond themselves is at present something that we are not yet able to fully understand.  The disciplines of psychology and psychiatry are still in their infancy and the number of variables involved, plus the difficulty in making constant enough and accurate enough observations on something as impermeable as the human mind makes it tricky to develop our knowledge further.  

Despite my belief that this could all be explained in purely scientific and rational terms I am convinced that what we are able to observe in these two contrasting examples is an ability to shape the perceptions of others by providing such psychological cues that they could effectively twist reality to their own wills.  The fact that folklore has developed describing such personalities before is evidence that this sort of thing is not previously unheard of.  Where Steve Jobs has changed many of our lives for the better with his ability to push technological development forward, Jimmy Savile has done the opposite, satisfying his own selfish desires and inflicting misery and unhappiness around him.  Where one might have been seen in the past as the prophet (he certainly turned a profit), the other would have been seen as one of Satan’s minions on earth.  Had he lived in an age where such beliefs were prevalent I have no doubt that Savile would have used such a title to enhance his power.

Future PriceSpy gadget guru?

I have recently been placed in the line up for becoming the UK gadget guru for PriceSpy.  It is currently being put to the vote on Facebook.  As far as voting stakes are going I am currently not in the top running but then neither am I at the bottom.  It is unfortunate that friends and connections can be a bit slow at clicking through to things and on Facebook there is always the problem that nobody wants to give any permissions to a site they’ve never previously heard of.

There are eight of us in the running and we have been told to be ready for interviews up in London next week.  They have also asked to see a piece of our writing, naturally focussed on gadgets/technology.  I am planning to write about the Neo900, which I think is a particularly interesting phone soon to be released that has received hardly any publicity due to its opensource origins.  I am being limited to 500 words so I will not be able to say everything I wish to say; I will therefore be likely to publish the full length impression I have been given of the Neo on here for you to read.  In future of course, if I get the job, I will be writing anything technology based on the pricespy blog primarily.

Pricespy themselves are a Swedish outfit I believe, Prisjakt Svaerige.  Their umbrella company is one of the leading Norwegian media companies so they are not a small outfit.  They have successfully entered a number of European markets but this is apparently the first foray into the British technology world.  It is fairly well known that Norway and Sweden are amongst the most advanced nations on the planet.  The economist has named them as some of the best governed countries in the world.  Things are done differently up there in Scandinavia and even with the distrust of big business I usually have, I must say I would feel far happier working for a Norse/Swedish company than I would for most.

Ultimately I am here blogging to blag for your vote.  I don’t know how many people are likely to read this piece of text but if you do then please go to the UK PriceSpy Gadget Guru voting page on Facebook and put in your vote for Ro Atkinson.