Monday, 22 January 2018

Medieval Lego Castle MOC

For Christmas a couple of years ago, Alison bought me a box of a Lego in an inspired spell of present-giving. Despite it containing bricks of all colours I started to build a castle and then in a moment of MOC-inspiration realized that I could purchase a load of grey bricks from a website for the purpose. A year later, as I neared the completion of the castle I decided that whilst it was okay for a first attempt, I could do a whole lot better and so I spent a whole evening dismantling the entire thing, filling five empty tins of chocolates with bricks. I have spent the past year building a brand new medieval castle, this time going for a far higher level of detail and intricacy, resulting in something I am far happier with. 

I have not yet completed this new Lego MOC, but as around two thirds of it is in place I thought it worth adding some pictures in - and so here you are, the results are a work in progress).

The main gatehouse... (rock detail only partially complete at the base)




The blacksmith & armoury...





Stable quarters...



Court jester in the minstrels gallery...




The throne room...




Top of the tower...



The soldier's quarters...




The library... (still under construction)




The chapel...


Monday, 15 January 2018

The curse of what Roger Scruton describes as “Soft Socialism”

I am of course referring to the likes of Gary Lineker, JK Rowling, Richard Osman and countless hoards of other celebrity pundits (many of whom who frequently appear in my Twitter feed under “You might be interested in following”). They are actors, presenters, comedians, writers, broadcasters and so on, all very wealthy, with a social media following to go with their bank balance (and more importantly their vast earning potential) which they use to spout socialist principles and, what we might cynically refer to as, virtue signaling at every available opportunity.

They people are of course bound by a level of fame that almost entirely requires them to build a socialist persona – at least from a socio-liberal perspective. This is where the core of their fan base resides – the BBC, left wing newspapers and the arts/entertainment. It is almost essential that persistently resonate as being as caring, sharing, warm, humane and generally full of virtue and compassion, for this ensures that their fan base continue to grow and their every output is fully consumed – whether that be a film, new book, radio program, podcast, game show or anything else that results in paid appearances, image rights or sales.

Their virtue-signaling views are of course slightly easier to hide than the rest of us, mainly because they don’t actually live in the real world. Of course, they might occasionally contribute towards a harrowing documentary, in which they are plunged into a heightened environment, which fuels the breaking of their hearts in a very open and raw manor, much to the distress of all of their television viewers (think Lily Allen in the Calais jungle camp), before scooting back in the limo to their mansion, zapping the button to close the electronic security gates behind them to ensure that none of the migrants they have championed come anywhere near their homes. They rarely see the full spectrum of migration, ranging from the entrepreneurs in the corner shops, pubs, takeaways and restaurants, the Eastern Europeans, often performing manual labour in niche areas of the country, those working in the NHS and those filling difficult-to-procure skilled roles. Nor do they see the other extreme, those over as health tourists, the illegal migrants in the backs of lorries, those lurking as criminals under the radar, or the apparently 59% of homeless people who are foreign nationals. No – good and bad, they are oblivious to it all and certainly have little interest in the overall implication that the population density of the UK continues to grow with added strain to our roads, rails, schools, hospitals and local authorities.

On the occasions that they are challenged on this small topic, they invariably point to evil corporations, the Tory party and Jeremy Clarkson as being the combined cause of the problem, with businesses needing to pay far more tax (they usually tweet this after frantically checking with their accountants and financial advisors that any wealth they have hidden in offshore accounts isn’t traceable by the Daily Mail). In haughty tones they will inform us that their wealth was created from pure talent alone and that they have never had to abuse the rights of others in order to advance their own careers. In other words, anyone running a business relying on the efforts of workers to generate wealth is an evil capitalist

Let me ask how much of her fortune (reputed to be somewhere upwards of $650 million) would JK Rowling have made were it not for the efforts of low-skilled workers? Those who served her coffee whilst she penned her book in warm cafes. The publishing company who printed millions of copies of her books in cheap printing presses. The hundreds of people in the film crews who worked on the movies. The thousands involved in producing the merchandising in Asia. And so on and so forth. Let us also recall how protective of her wealth via intellectual property she is – several years ago for example she closed down a local school nativity production when it touched upon a Harry Potter theme as it was not licensed. One wonders what her reaction would be were an evil corporation were to do the same?

Of course, we are all dependent on others for the generation of wealth – that is the nature of a free market economy and the sooner we manage to convince everyone to acknowledge this, the better. It might also help their understanding of how money works in the public sector as the “let’s throw more money are the NHS” argument is becoming rather thin. Never mind the fact that the entire GDP of the UK wouldn’t be enough to save the in its current form and with its current philosophy of “we help everyone and anyone free of charge,” it is their opportunity to again virtue signal their way to the top of the “I’m a compassionate person” award list without realistically coming up with a feasible contribution to how this might work. To this end, I remain confused, because the shortcomings of socialism can be easily explained conceptually to a class of children, yet to the soft socialists of celebritydom, it remains an elusive concept. If we were to level out exam grades so that instead of a couple of As, some Bs, Cs, Ds and Es, we gave the entire class a B, pretty much all pupils would be happy (save for the two swats who scored an A). Of course, this is where the soft socialists sit – unable to grasp what will happen next. Inevitable the two A-graders will slack off (why should I bother studying all weekend if I’m only going to get a B?) and they next time the average grade drops to a C. The process repeats itself as a race to the bottom in which everyone looks to the next person to bail them out, has no incentive to be self-reliant and in the end you hit zero productivity and the only way you can enforce the wretched thing is to have a dictatorship and block democracy. After all, who got to vote on the activities of the EU? Which party wants to lower the voting age, control it within the education system and devalue the voting power of older people? Answers on a postcard…

Of course, the soft socialists would be out of the country by that point looking for another political playground to keep their fortunes in. A playground in which they continue not to have to take job interviews, battle the daily commute, find the inner resolve to start a business and run a family without the assistance of cleaners, cooks and au pairs. The search criteria would be narrow, but I’m sure with the continued efforts of their agents they would achieve it.