During the winter, the air in Norton smells richly of burning coal, wood and melting plastic.
During the summer months, this is replaced with a heady miasma of charcoal, burnt meat and slurry, although recently this has been added to by the arrival of a fish and chip shop in the village and its associated pongs. The neighbours gather with their families and friends and burn meat to add a crunchy flavoursome crust. Then dine on said items accompanied by trendy salads and fine wines.
Meanwhile, in Gnomepants Cottage, the food remains cooked on the stove or in the oven as the once faithful barbecue was consigned to the council tip some time during the last great move.
Hosting garden parties and barbecues became a thing of the past once the realisation that standing over burning coals while sausages singed was no longer fun but a chore. The realisation that watching guests get tipsy and sated on cremated burgers and battling wasps while the chefs food got even more scorched and grew colder was no fun for the chef.
I was often the chef.
More often than not, the food would be cold, the guests would be leaving and I’d be left with a mountain of soggy salad even though I’d resolved not to make so much in the first place.
Resolution was that no further barbecues would be hosted and that they would solely be attended upon invitation.
This Sunday in Norton was a glorious day. Neighbours fired up their barbecues and began their annual ritual of eating calcined meat goods. The air became thick with smog but few invitations arrived. But no matter.
It was then that I realised, trend setter that I am, I had set an example amongst my friends. A fashion that no more would they hold barbecues and invite people while the hosts cooked and slaved over burning cinders only to dine themselves later on cold undercooked foodstuffs. This explains why we didn’t get any invites to barbecues from friends. That, and living out in the sticks, miles from friends and family.
So next time you’re enjoying the British summer, sitting in the garden inhaling burnt meat pollution, and have the urge to fire up the old barbecue, invite some chums and have a crap dinner while your friends enjoy the fruits of your labours, remember they didn’t invite you to theirs. Why? Because no fool wants to eat cold sausages and mountains of salad. They want their food cooked, hot and served to them by gracious hosts. They don’t have barbecues. Instead, they are sensible and have their dinner parties indoors.
Regular readers will remember that every election, general or otherwise, I try to get the local candidates to meet me in the pub so that they can tell me why I should vote for them. Regular readers will also recall that during each election I look at the leaflets that come through the door and explain how ineffective they are as a way to wrestle my vote from me.
This week, local Kipper, Michael P. Gerard (the P is important you know) pushed his big purple one through my flap.
Facebook are enforcing their real names policy like jackbooted fascists. Pressurising members to use their real legal names rather than any assumed, stage or preferred nom-de-plume. Please see my previous post for their reasons why – Facebook Real Names Policy – Intro.
This is the second post of this series.
People ask why I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants. I usually say “Mind your own business”. Sometimes, however, I’m not so rude about it; the reason I use the name Stegzy Gnomepants is because people know me by that name.
I started using the internet in 1986, but back then the internet was bobbins and was more like Ceefax than the internet we know and love today. Back then I used the handle Stegzy and remained using that name until about a month later when my parents got their telephone bill and the internet was taken away from me.
Tardis yourself forward in time to 1998 when I bought my first PC. It was a Pentium 266. It cost me £1000 or there abouts. Top of the range. Fast modem (56kpbs). A whopping lump of RAM (something like 16Mb). A cavernous hard drive (approx 512Mb). I connected to the internet and restarted my online life as Stegzy.
Internet fashions came and went. AOL IM, CompuServe, that weird virtual world that Demon Internet had for a few years, Usenet newsgroups – all using the name stegzy. The Gnomepants bit came shortly after, when, as more and more people began using the internet, names were getting quickly claimed by other users. Yes, another Stegzy started to appear. I had to distinguish. Someone I knew then affectionately used to call me Gnomepants, I adopted that name as my online personalities surname.
This was the early 2000s. Then came Freeserve chat. I used the name stegzy there as well as evilgnome. Sometimes, for anonymity, I would use the name gnomepants. It helped separate my real life from my online life. It kept people from my work, past and those I didn’t want to communicate with, out of my online adventures where, if they found out about my activities, they would have ruined it. Ripping me away from my special place. My escape. My hide away. Where I was safe from those that would interfere. A place I could be myself without fear of judgement or prejudice.
Next came Livejournal. You can find me there using the name Stegzy too and all entries from there have been preserved here on WordPress too. That is when the real Stegzy Gnomepants blossomed. 2004 came and went. Sometime during this period a bloke called Zuckerberg created a service called Facebook…you might have heard of it.
So lets look at this again….1986 I begin using the name Stegzy. Stegzy Gnomepants circa 1998. People I meet on line know me as Stegzy Gnomepants. I spend the majority of the period 1998-2004 online as….Stegzy Gnomepants. Then some bloke comes along and creates a website called Facebook which nobody had heard of.
Ok, let’s carry on…Myspace – Stegzy Gnomepants. Hotmail – stegzy gnomepants. Google! What name shall I use? Oh I know, I’ll use my real name…Nobody knows me…ok I’ll use my assumed name….Everyone knows me! Stegzy Gnomepants.
2006ish. Good online friend Dan4th (Hi Dan if you still read!) tells me about some website where American kids hang out. Fascist books or Fuctbook or something. Oh yes…Facebook…I’ll sign up. Stegzy Gnomepants.
Blogspot arose – Stegzy Gnomepants; WordPress – Stegzy Gnomepants; Hell, I’m Stegzy Gnomepants on the BBC, Ebay, everywhere. Search google. You’ll see me using that everywhere and I have been for a very very long time.
Once more lets step back and look –
Me – Known online as Stegzy Gnomepants since 1998
Zuckerberg – Known online as Facebook since 2004.
Think that makes me win.
2014. Facebook decide that I must use my real name. A name nobody on the internet knows me by.
I teach Social Media for Business during the day. In my lessons I advise that to be successful online you need to remain consistent across all platforms. Use the same username where possible. The same avatar. The same contact details. Thats how people know who you are.
Mr Zuckerberg, if I’m to change my name just for your silly little empire, then my influence will have no weight. Businesses will not use me as an influencer. I cannot be a potential brand ambassador for your clients. I am the celebrity. I am the authority. I am the connector, the expert, the agitator. I am the journalist and the activist. I am the personal brand personified. That means my identity is nothing to you.
Yes I know you say I can create a PAGE but with a page I cannot interact with people as a person. Like things as a person. Interact, engage and amplify as a person online. Especially with products, services or similar which anyone can see me liking, make a judgement on my character. My beliefs. My choices. People that judge. People who I have no wish to share my identity with.
Someone said about my last post on this matter “If you don’t want to adhere to the Facebook’s terms and conditions don’t use it”. Something I am considering. Very hard. Perhaps over to Google+, who realised a very long time ago, forcing your “product” to use something in a way they don’t want to leads to failure. Isn’t that right Google Wave?
So when the call comes I will depart from Facebook. I will leave it never to return. You can continue to read my exploits here on WordPress or follow me on Twitter (@stegzy). Facebook postings will decline. I’m sorry if you, like Zuckerberg, no longer want, care or give a stuff about what I say, like or want to share with you. I’m sorry if you no longer want to fuel our social media narcissism together. But if that’s the way you want to play, I’ll let you take your ball home by yourself. Just mind you don’t trip over those toys you claim I threw out of my pram.
Recently Facebook began enforcing their so-called “Real Names Policy”. You might remember this making the news back in September when Facebook began closing or suspending the accounts of transgendered people and drag artists who were not using their “real names” on their profiles.
After the wails of protests became too loud for the Facebook PR machine to quash, an agreement was made and some of the users affected were permitted to keep their chosen Facebook names. (http://bit.ly/14YEmTy) However, even after the apology, the Facistbook Facebook name policy police continued to crawl the site looking for suspicious names. No doubt using some hair brained algorithm which looks for commonly suspicious names.
Often on Facebook, people create accounts for their pets and one of the more common Facebook profiles of yesteryear was Facebook profiles for cats. Profiles with names like Kitty Whiskers, Charlie Puss and other feline similes would be common place. Similarly Doggy Woofwoof, Rover Dog and other animals were common too. Facebook started to prevent such accounts being made but recently, two members of the Facebook community I know of who both have names with cat themes had their accounts suspended. So it seems likely that Facebook’s algorithm is working through its cat thesaurus.
Facebook’s terms of service state that people must use the same name “as it would be listed on your credit card, driver’s license or student ID.” Which is great. Except I know plenty of Mikes whose name on their driving licence says “Michael”, Jims whose passports say their name is James. Indeed, I know lots of people who don’t actually use their full name on social media because of safety, privacy and historical reasons.
For as long as I have been on the internet, I have used the internet name “Stegzy Gnomepants”. Why? Because my real name is, quite rightly, none-of-your-fucking-business. I have been on the internet since 1998 using that very same name. Look for me on google, you’ll find my accounts everywhere. Stegzy Gnomepants. Occasionally Stegzonopolis Gnomicpantalon. Rarely some other variation. It is my distinct expression of my personality. My expression of creativity. How I wish to be known on the internet.
I also use the name because I realised long ago, the only reason people need your name is so they can compile data about you. Attribute demographic and personal information to form a picture about your personality and psyche. Your political beliefs. Your sexual preferences. Your needs. Not just for marketing purposes. But for sinister reasons. As dear old Edward Snowden pointed out.
There is no need to create a state like the DDR in former East Germany. Not when people freely give every aspect of their waking life to those who want it but don’t ask for it. That is the world now. There is no need to worry about people communicating anonymously when they are forced to use their real name on services they have tied to one identity. We’re being shepherded back into a society that thousands died to prevent 100 years ago. Technology designed to promote democracy is being used to control us. Prevent uprisings. Quash political unrest and difference of opinion. Exactly how Egypt and parts of the Middle East failed to do.
Anonymity causes people to misbehave. Anonymity allows people to do bad things. Anonymity allows people to abuse children. This is what those whipping up the pre-constructed moral panic are saying.
However, it’s the opposite. It’s anonymity that protects us from surveillance. Anonymity prevents abuse. Anonymity saves lives. Anonymity is a right. A way of life.
So, the axe is about to fall. The sword of Damocles may drop at any moment and over ten years of Facebook usage is about to come to an end. I will lose contact with friends I have made long before Facebook because that is how they communicate. I will lose memories. Fond and painful. Over the next few days I am intending to write about this situation. Discuss alternatives. Express distaste and moot alternatives.
Going forward. You can always find me elsewhere. Follow my comings and goings on WordPress (stegzy.wordpress.com). Tweet me on Twitter (@stegzy). Analyse my mind on LiveJournal (stegzy.livejournal.com). Say “Hello” on Ello (@stegzy). Flick me on Flickr (stegzy). Hell, if I’m on it, I’m on it as Stegzy. But as for Facebook. How long I am there is dependent on how quickly their police come for me. Enjoy my last days there. Because when they say stop. I will. By taking myself elsewhere.
Well, the day is at hand. Tomorrow is election day and I am still to receive any form of communication (other than the tweets from Emma Collins) from any of the candidates running tomorrow.
I was unable to write profiles on the Liberal Democrat candidate or the Trade Unionist. Purely because I couldn’t find anything out about them. They too, like the Labour candidate, appear to not want to be elected and are happy to fritter away their deposit on a whim.
I suppose it’s like betting on horses or entering the National Lottery. Only with a higher stake.
It’s a sorry state of affairs when the candidates in the local area just aren’t bothered about promoting their cause. It’s a sorry state of affairs when potentially good candidates give up before they’ve even started the race.
Tomorrow I will vote in two elections. The local and the European. I know nothing about any of the candidates other than bold brags about how they are going to stand up. Well I’ve got news. I’m going to stand up.
None of you candidates are worth the lives of the thousands of soldiers who died in the Great War 100 years ago. Not one of you. You should be ashamed and you are an affront to democracy. No wonder that the youth are disconnected from politics. No wonder fascist groups are on the rise in the UK and EU. It is even no wonder great minds and thinkers are leaving this country for other more enlightened parts of the world. When people like you are all the people have to select as their voice once every few years. Prove me wrong. Come canvassing in Norton tomorrow. I’m in all day. Come and tell me why I should vote for you. Contact me via this blog, twitter or where ever. I’ll meet you. Convince me you are doing this for your own beliefs and not some misguided attempt at getting your name on a park bench when you die.
And so, to you dear reader, all I can urge you to do tomorrow is vote. Vote for the candidate you feel is worthy of the job of representing you in the European parliament. Vote for the candidate who you feel will do the best for your local area. Remember their promises and, if they default on them, use your greatest weapon against them to bring shame upon them. Your democratic vote and your freedom of speech.
Following on from yesterday’s twitter conversation with the Labour Candidate for Weedon Ward, Daventry, Northamptonshire in the Daventry Local Elections 2014. I received this tweet:
What does that mean? “We are not leafleting Weedon ward”? Well how are you going to get the electorate to know who you are and what you are going to stand for? How can the electorate be informed?
Imagine. “Yes, well we’re not going to tell people what our key products are we’re just going to open and hope for the best”
Only someone with totally misguided confidence would run in a local election and not tell the voters who they are and what they stand for. Good for you Mrs! Good for you! You’d have been better off spending the electoral deposit on something like a trip to Cromer. Or some cakes.
“Dav Labour Doing good work” – How? Where? What sort of work??
“Standing up for local services…” – On the bus because they need a seat? In a field? Doing the hokey cokey? – “…and a living wage for DDC staff”
Well as a member of the public who isn’t a member of Daventry District Council, what good is that for me?
Honestly! What on earth?! It’s as if she doesn’t want to win.
Ah well…The offer still stands…Come and tell me why I should vote for you…
Now, considering that Daventry is a crucial Conservative hot spot you would expect a lot of campaigning by the opposition parties. Not so here in sleepy Norton. Sure, European election leaflets have fluttered unbidden onto my door mat but local candidates seem to be few and far between. Considering the election is only a few days away, the opposition candidates had better get a move on if they want possible swing voters to make their minds up.
I have no leaflet for Ms Collins. I knew nothing about her, her policies, what issues she feels strongly about or whether like Mr Smith she likes to have a poo in a field before standing up and fighting builders. With her fists.
So, using my l33t skills and well honed research methods, I had a poke about on the internet to see what I could find out about Ms Collins. It’s scary what you can find about people online, or so they say. Heh, that’s why, I suppose, I don’t use my real name online.
And never have.
Anyway, I know where she lives but where’s the fun in that. I mean this kind of information is given by the election’s returning officer and in the election notices. Turning up unbidden on her doorstep is a bit creepy so I wouldn’t do that. Although I suppose I could go canvassing. You know like candidates do only as a voter…Or will that get me arrested…Maybe not eh?
So the first port of call was Google. Using a bit of Googlefoo, I was able to find Ms Collins’ twitter account. So let’s do this in real time and send her a tweet…
I’ll post her response if it comes….
Her feed seems to be akin to Mr Chris “I’ll block you if you question my insistence that Margaret Thatcher was the best thing that happened to the UK” Heaton-Harris. Jokes, asides and retweets of the odd bit of opposition political linkage. Nothing that says “Hey, intarwebz, I am young and clued up about social media and know how to market myself as a potential politician! Vote for me!”
Nothing that says “I’ll have a fight with navvies in a field if they so much as look at it through the windscreen of a JCB”
In fact there’s nothing. Nothing political…Couple of possible leads but out of decency I won’t mention those. But I did find three Emma Collins on Facebook in the Northamptonshire area. None of which, look like the tiny picture above, they all look like they’re still in school.
Ok, so let’s check the old Twitter feed….
Oooh! Look! She’s replied!
So it’s off to the local press.
Good old Gusher. They are now part of Johnston Press so their website isn’t very good. Their weekly newspaper is often a bit low on gripping local news and is more akin to the old “Man who Once Passed through Daventry Met Elvis” kind of headline. But none-the-less, we should all use our local press or we will lose them. And then where would we be for news about Angry People, new toasters in Estate agents or cats stuck up trees.
Anyway, a quick search on the site brings me:
Not a peep.
A few articles containing the words “EMMA” and “COLLINS” but nothing about our candidate. Meh.
Maybe my skills aren’t as l33t as I think. Maybe Emma Collins is still waiting for her leaflets to come back from Vistaprint. Maybe she’s going to pull out all the stops on Thursday by filling the sky with giant letters explaining what her policies are. Maybe now she’s heard of me, she’ll take me up on my offer of joining me in the White Horse in Norton so she can tell me why I should vote for her.
Or maybe not.
I’ll let you know if she gets back to me before Thursday…
One of the differences with local elections that I have noticed here in Daventry is that the local candidates like to shove leaflets through the door.
In Brierley, I think we only had one or two leaflets through the door with the majority of local political news coming from the Barnsley Chronicle.
Here in Daventry, the local press The Daventry Express or “The Gusher”, is as political as The Beano. I understand that such is the fate of local newspapers.
I’ve also noticed that local candidates here don’t seem to use the internet effectively. So as a favour, I will examine each of the candidates that shove leaflets through my door. Right here….On the internets…..for ALL to see.
Today is John Clifford Gale
John Clifford Gale is, according to his leaflet, my UKIP candidate for Daventry District Council Weedon Ward. He has lived in Northamptonshire for 35 years and has worked on the parish council in Brington
On the front of his leaflet:-
We Don’t Just Need a Breath of Fresh Air. We Need A Gale
Really? We need strong winds in the area? Damage to trees, chimneys and rooftops? I don’t think so
Not only is this country governed by Brussels – your local councils are governed by their political parties.
Curious. There I was thinking my taxes went to fund booze orgies for the privileged in London. So what’s with all the goings on in London then? If the country is being governed by Brussels why am I paying for Cameron’s cronies?
Then you say that my local councils are governed by their political parties…
Ok, let me look at the list of candidates again. Yep, UKIP, Tory, Labour, Libdem…nope….I can’t see any parties from Brussels there. Christian Democrats? Nope can’t see them. Social Democrats? Nope. Oooh ooh LIBERAL DEMOCRATS! I can see them. But they’re only a weak ineffective wedge in government and hardly swamping us with ineffectual laws and policies.
On the reverse of the leaflet:-
John Gale believes that:
The new housing development planned for New Croft Weedon should be questioned
Really? The residents and the buildings? The planners? Or the people on the council who allowed it? Well, it’s UKIP so I suspect he means the residents. Drag them in for questioning! Why do you not conform? Why?! Why?!
We deserve a review of our local bus services
Why? There are more buses here in the Daventry district than anywhere else I’ve lived. Heck, there’s even a bus that goes past my house once a week. Unless you mean that the only thing we deserve is a review of local bus services. You know, so you can carry on with your sinister shenanigans in the council chambers unbridled.
Let’s see more Police around our district
More police? Oh yes of course, because as a member of a local council you have control over police budgets and policing levels. No doubt the need for more police will be so that Mr Gale and his jack booted friends can make sure the electorate are conforming and doing as they are told.
Dog fouling is out of control
Out of control! That must mean that there are heaps and heaps of dog shit filling the streets. Poor little urchins wander through the lanes and byways of the region, knee deep in festering poop crying and begging for a small morsel of food. Oh the horror. The smell. The humanity.
The only shite I’ve seen around Norton is this leaflet Mr John Clifford Gale has pushed through my door. That’s out of control.
Wind farms will ruin our stunning local landscape
“Oh the railways/canals will spoil the countryside and go through our lands”. That’s what your lot said about the railways Mr Gale. We dun’t liek change round here
Windfarms will bring lots of lovely cheap energy and remove the need of marching pylons in the area. Moreso than a high speed white elephant stretching from London to Birmingham sucking all the regional talent away from the areas that need them most.
There should be more Local Surgery Facilities
Really? Is this so your jackbooted friends can perform labotomies on those that don’t conform? Or do you mean Surgeries run by the local politician? Or perhaps you mean more facilities in the local surgeries? You know like slides, snack bars, bingo for the over 60s…that kind of thing?
Pot Holes: Enough is enough
I had a pot hole once. Curiously it was filled the other week.
I’m sorry Mr John Clifford Gale, UKIP candidate in Weedon ward, Daventry. Your beliefs as advertised on your leaflet do not appeal to me. Tell me about what you’re going to do about the shit broadband speed in the area. Tell me about what you are going to do about the speeding idiots that pass my house every day? Tell me what you’re going to do to encourage employment, education and facilities in the Daventry area. Dog shit, windfarms and coffee shops at the doctors aren’t going to cut the mustard.
Come on. John Clifford Gale, UKIP Candidate for Weedon, Daventry. Take me up on my challenge and tell me face to face why I should vote for you.
It started about the 17th September. Groups of people from all walks of life gathered in Wall Street in America in protest of the growing corporate culture. The movement is called Occupy.
There has been frighteningly little news about this in the British media. I’m not saying it has not been reported; it has. I am not shocked by this as unless children get hurt or someone famous gets arrested at the event it was unlikely it would get reported.
Monitoring the news this week has been interesting. Very little in the way of actual news. Slow news week. Slow news. Nothing to worry about…move along…But scratch beneath the surface, read between the lines and you notice things.
Little things. Like the problem with the Blackberry mobile phone network. Curious that it happens here just as the Occupy movement swells in Europe and, indeed the UK. Cast your mind back to the events in August. Riots organised by youths….USING BLACKBERRYS. Cut off the network. Invent some crap about a server malfunction. Cut off the communication of the youth. Prevent gatherings and organised flash protests. Then what happens? The problem spreads to the US. Coincidence? Maybe.
Then there’s the disappearing links on Facebook. I tried sharing a link to a news story drawing attention to the movement. Mysteriously it vanished a few hours later. I pasted a link in a comment to a friend. It too mysteriously vanished. Paranoia? Cake?? Misdirection?
Something stinks. I don’t like it. When people start disappearing, it will be too late.