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Month: November 2011

Don’t be naughty in the University of St. Andrews toilets – you have been warned

This photo has been banded around on twitter for a few days but I thought I’d throw in up on the website for those that haven’t seen it. Apparently too many people are having wanks in the University of St. Andrews toilets and those in charge decided that this needed to stop and have put up the following ‘Masturbation Notice’ on the door.

University of St. Andrews Masturbation Notice
Be warned boys...

So it is costing far too much to remove all the stains from the floor. Firstly I’d wondering who would want to go in there for one anyway and secondly isn’t it more likely that people are actually involved in various sexual activities in there with a partner instead of a solo hand shandy?

I bet Prince William and Kate Middleton never did anything like that…

Apologies to whoever originally posted this photo. I don’t know who it was so can’t give them credit but it certainly wasn’t me.

Update: Please see below. The original picture was taken by Jorge Milburn, a student at the university and was uploaded to fb (link in comments).

Update Two: This blog made it into a Freedom of Information Request. How freaking awesome. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t an officially sanctioned university Masturbation Notice. Who knew? Seriously that is all sorts of awesome and just how cool was the response from the Press Officer? Big props to the guy…

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How do you react when someone stops feeling you are worthy of being social media friends?

That moment where you see your Facebook friends has gone down or you notice someone you interacted with has stopped following you on twitter are strange moments. In the main the people that de-friend you or those who stop following you are people you never speak to anyway. They are people you knew from school but haven’t spoken to in ten years or people who followed you because they liked a RT they saw of yours but then noticed they didn’t like your style of tweeting. However when it’s someone you do know and do speak to that decides enough is enough then how are you meant to react?

I remember back in 2009 when I left my employment. One person in the office de-friended me from Facebook in the time I took to leave the office for the final time and stroll the seven minutes home. First point is it is clear we weren’t any sort of friends if she decided that within those seven minutes she needed to cut me out of her life altogether. Secondly how awkward was it when we bumped into each other? I knew how much she didn’t like me and she knew how much she didn’t like me and yet the small talk and uncomfortable moments were there. Thirdly a few months ago she requested to be added to her LinkedIn connections.

So from thinking that I wasn’t even worthy of being Facebook friends with she has a couple of years later decided I might be worth knowing in a professional sense because at some point my expertise might be valuable to her. I sit back and shrug. No skin off my nose either way and the odds of us ever interacting again are minimal at best. However what happens when this happens to people you know you will interact with again?

Being followed by on twitter or being Facebook friends with someone is kind of a strange ‘vote of confidence’ and when it is taken away you start to wonder what is it you did wrong. You start to look at your tweets and try to work out what could have offended someone. You look at your Facebook statuses and do the same. It is always good when you can work out exactly when someone has given you the chop as you can narrow down why. What I can never understand is why you get cut from one but not the other? Not worthy enough to follow on twitter but worthy enough to be Facebook friends with.

I know many believe they are different clientèle and you can easily be worthy enough to know on Facebook but not bother with on twitter. I get that to some degree as obviously I’m not Facebook friends with everyone I follow on twitter but once you follow/friend on both then surely if you cut someone from one then the other would swiftly follow? Seems pretty clear cut to me.

Anyway here’s to more uncomfortable small talk with people in the future. I know that situation will arise again in the near future and I wonder if it is worth just coming out and saying, ‘look I know you don’t like me so why the pretence?’ if there is one thing I loath then it is falseness and that is something in this digital age we will suffer from a lot.

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Mike McQueary moved into protective custody

I hope that my blogging surrounding this story will wane in the coming weeks and months. No doubt at some point is will flare up but I hope to be blogging again on political matters and random stuff that pops into my fron soon. Heck it was the Southend Lib Dem AGM on Monday and I have exciting (well semi exciting, well news, well something) I have reaction to that and other stuff that really should be blogged about but other things have been the priority this week.

Ok so if you’ve read this blog or read, seen or heard any type of news bulletin in the past week you would have heard about the Penn State Sex Scandal. The latest news on this is Mike McQueary has been placed into protective custody according to a PennLive report after having received what the police are determining as ‘numerous threats’ on his life. For those who don’t know Mike McQueary is the key prosecution witness in the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault trial. He allegedly saw Sandusky sodomising a boy of around ten years-old.

Now there are people angry that he didn’t do more. I can understand that but people please take a step back here and try not to act like idiots. The media have whipped this up into a storm and when journalists like Professor JA Adande are saying that the media’s reaction has shown us how great the media are my heart sinks. This is a man who is teaching the next generation of journalists but hey – as I wrote earlier – being fair doesn’t sell newspapers.

You have guys like Mark May – who most self-respecting college football fan knows is a grade A moron saying essentially that Mike McQueary by not running into that situation and saving the boy doesn’t deserve to live – that he isn’t human. That is basically what he said on live national TV. Now it turns out that the police believe McQueary’s life is in danger and yet wait for this…

The man accused of these crimes doesn’t need protective custody. He is living in his martial home with no police guards stationed outside of it. So the person accused of these heinous crimes is free to live his life with no seeming immediate fear but the person who is the key witness to putting this seemingly evil monster inside if left to fend for himself would probably be murdered for not doing enough.

The media have driven this story so hard that they have clouded the public’s perception for who the real villains are. If the baying mob want to kill McQueary then the likelihood of Sandusky being convicted of these crimes falls dramatically. Not a little. Dramatically.

So what do the mob want? Do they want justice for the victims or do they want to seek their own revenge on the key witness and ensure that these victims do not get full justice.

They two things are mutually exclusive. If the mob gets to McQueary then Sandusky in all likelihood walks free to possibly sexually abuse more boys. Is that really what the mob wants? Of course it isn’t but it is what the media bandwagon has driven them to.

The mob and the media cannot see the wood for the trees. Jerry Sandusky is the man accused of these crimes but no-one cares because the media have told them not to care. The media told them to care about Joe Paterno and now Mike McQueary and I genuinely fear for both their lives. I fear I’m going to wake up to the news that one or both of them will be butchered in cold blood by someone and if that happens then the blood stains will be all over ESPN and the rest of the media who have driven this story so far down the nation’s throats that people are choking on it and can’t see the reality, just the perception given to them by the media.

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Just when did we hand over the keys to our moral compasses to the media?

In 2005 I left university with a degree in Journalism. So many people dream about being a journalist and breaking the big news, doing the background research, being the first with the news. It is a something that so many young people strive for. Journalism in one of the most over-subscribed courses at universities in this country but yet the reality is different and so many lose their way over time.

As anyone who has read anything from me in the past week with know the biggest issue in my life has been the Penn State child sexual abuse scandal with particular reference to how the media have treated Joe Paterno – an 84 year-old man not accused of either sexually abusing boys nor of trying to cover it up. Other people are accused of such crimes but Paterno is not. However the media fallout has left me ever-so deeply troubled.

There are so many fine writers and journalists over in the States but in the past week they have thrown out notion of being fair and reasoned and declared a witch hunt. They couldn’t see the big picture and had a target in mind – a target deep down many of them had been hoping would slip up so they could attack him. They had no idea how it would end but they were always going to be vultures when it did end.

Thankfully one respected journalist put his head above a parapet and wrote arguably the first fair and reasoned report of the whole situation. That man was Joe Posnanski. His piece The End of Joe Paterno sums up so many of my feelings towards the way the media have acted. I urge people to go and read it but should they chose not to then I shall highlight some of what I believe are the most pertinent pieces:

I have seen some things in the last few days that have felt rotten, utterly wrong — a piling on that goes even beyond excessive, a dancing on the grave that makes me ill. Joe Paterno has lived a whole life. He has improved the lives of countless people. I know — I’ve talked to hundreds of them. Almost every day I walk by the library that he and his wife, Sue, built. I walk by the religious center that tries to bring people together, and his name is on the list of major donors. I hear the stories, the countless stories, of the kindnesses that came naturally to him, of the way he stuck with people in their worst moments, of the belief he had that everybody could do a little bit better — as a football player, as a student, as a human being. I’m not going to tell you these stories now, because you can’t hear them. Nobody can hear them in the howling.

A recollection of all the good this man has done. The last line though sums everything up. No-one wants to hear the full story because what is at the forefront of people’s minds are the allegations made against a former coach of his.

We are in a top-you world where everyone is not only trying to report something faster but is also trying to report something ANGRIER. One guy wants Joe Paterno to resign, the next wants him to be fired, the next wants him to be fired this minute, the next wants him to be fired and arrested, the next wants him to be fired, arrested and jailed, on and on, until we’ve lost sight of who actually committed the crimes here.

This is without even a shadow of a doubt a very accurate point. Being balanced and fair is not the world we live in any more unfortunately. We live in a world where we want instant justice and instant answers and make instant judgements. We don’t want to wait for evidence we just want to pile on and if you don’t pile on enough then the feeling is that you are defending a man who is indefensible. The men accused of these crimes are not mentioned and will get their day in court to defend themselves but because the media can’t hound them then they need a scapegoat. Any major story needs a scapegoat and in this instance it was the man dubbed ‘Saint Joe’ and when the mighty fall then everyone rejoices.

I think the University could not possibly have handled this worse. It was disgusting and disgraceful, the method in which they fired Joe Paterno after 60 years of service, and yes, I do think Paterno was a scapegoat. Of course he was. I’ve already said that he had to be let go. But to let him dangle out there, take up all the headlines, face the bulk of the media pressure, absolutely, that’s the very definition of scapegoat. Three people were indicted and arrested. A fourth, I hear, will be indicted soon. Joe Paterno is not one of the four.

The university have handled this situation worse than any organisation has ever handled a scandal in my lifetime. We don’t know exactly who knew what and when but we do know what has happened since the indictments were handed down by the Grand Jury on Saturday. Instead of calling an emergency meeting of the Board of Trustees and trying to get answers the Board of Trustees didn’t meet until Wednesday. The university President said that the two men still on staff who were indicted had his ‘unconditional support’ until two days later they were both placed on administrative leave.

On Tuesday when Joe Paterno was due to meet with the media this Press Conference was cancelled minutes before by the President of the university. Joe Paterno was happy to talk about the case but the President fearing Joe may say something that made the university liable to civil claims pulled the plug. Instead of dealing with the situation they left the situation to bulge and the more silence there was the more media airtime got devoted to the story.

Then on Wednesday they forged the President to resign and fired Joe Paterno. When asked why they fired him the Board of Trustees spokesman said ‘we don’t have any of the facts yet’ but yet they fired him anyway. Joe Paterno as I understand it has tenure at Penn State and can only be fired for gross misconduct. What he has or hasn’t done it certainly would not constitute gross misconduct therefore if Paterno really wanted to he could sue the university for unfair dismissal. He won’t but he could. This is the reason Mike McQueary is still on the staff – they can’t fire him for anything he’s done wrong – so firing him would be unlawful.

Posnanski refers to a possible fourth indictment coming and that it will not be against Paterno. I doubt very much it is McQueary so logically it will be the now former President of the university Graham Spanier. If that indictment does come down then it is likely the Grand Jury has evidence that Tim Curley and Graham Schultz went to the President with news of the 2002 allegation but Spanier helped cover it up. That would be my guess anyway.

It is still unclear what Paterno did in this case. It will remain unclear for a while. You might be one of the hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve heard from who know EXACTLY what Paterno did. He HAD to know this. He DEFINITELY knew that. He COULD have done something. I respect that. Joe Paterno’s a public figure. You have every right to believe what you want to believe and be absolutely certain about it. But since we have not heard from Joe, not heard from former athletic director Tim Curley, not heard from GA/assistant coach Mike McQueary, not heard from anyone who was in the room, I’ll repeat: It’s unclear. A determined grand jury did not charge Joe Paterno with any crime. A motivated reporting barrage, so far, anyway, has not uncovered a single thing that can tell us definitively what Joe Paterno knew.

This is the final piece of the story I shall quote. We do not know what Joe Paterno knew or didn’t know. We don’t know. However listening to the talking heads and reading the scribes from all over the country (and in pieces here in the UK) I have come to the understanding that in fact all these journalists have been privately briefed about everything and they know the full story. It would be nice if they could let us schmoes into the club to find out the truth. Printing the truth based on one half of the story is a very dangerous thing indeed.

Still nearly 1,500 words into this blog those that are still reading might be thinking ‘but what has this got to do with either a) the media or b) the media in the UK?’ well don’t fret that is coming up next.

When a bandwagon or witch hunt gets rolling it is extremely difficult to stop. The media in this case I have referred to have barrel rolled into the story and have had targets all along. Now Paterno is out that has shifted on to Mike McQueary. It is just the way the media want. They want to conduct a court of public opinion where they are judge and jury but the problem is the judge and jury aren’t looking at what is right or wrong instead they are looking at what shifts most newspapers, what makes more listeners tune in, what makes more viewers watch and in a selfish sense what makes them look best. A journalist coming out and saying ‘let’s wait for all the facts’ will not be looked upon favourably because that isn’t what makes money. Being reactionary and sensationalist makes the money.

In the UK we saw the case of Christopher Jefferies who was wrongfully arrested on suspicion of the murder of Jo Yeates. The case encapsulated the media because of the circumstances, pretty blonde girl, found dead on Christmas morning in the snow, boyfriend already had an alibi, it was the perfect storm for the media. There is usually very little news around Christmas so the story and the case took on a life of it’s own. When Jefferies was arrested the court of public opinion driven by the media had proclaimed him guilty and that was that.

A funny thing happened on the way to the police proving his guilt though – they proved his innocence and in fact had already identified another suspect – one who you know – actually did the crime. That was a few weeks later though and the media were rabid in their lust for swift justice whether it was right or wrong. They wanted (nee: needed) a guilty party and when the police decided to arrest Jefferies on a tip-off that was it. He was guilty for all to see.

He has slowly got his life back together but how do you piece together your life against everyone has been told what an awful human being you are by the media? It can’t be easy. Earlier this month he spoke on BBC Radio 4, “It has taken up a whole year virtually of my life, that period of time has meant that everything else that I would normally be doing has been in abeyance.

“But, fortunately, I think I’m approaching the point at which I can start to take up the reins from the end of last year.”

Mr Jefferies accepted an apology and “substantial” libel damages from the Sun, Mirror, Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Record, Daily Express, Daily Star and the Scotsman for their coverage after his arrest. So that was what eight national newspapers who essentially printed lies about him. Did these newspapers print these lies because they secretly hated him? No they didn’t. They printed these lies because they knew it would sell newspapers. That is all anyone cares about in this industry – making money. If the truth doesn’t sell then the truth can be buried.

Look at John Charles De Menezes. When that tragic event first happened the newspapers were all saying he was a terrorist who was involved in a long chase with police nd then jumped over some tube barriers in attempt to try and get away from them and cause terror to the people of London. However again this wasn’t the truth. This was the truth using just one half of the story – the police’s at the time – and that was enough. It was only when it came out that the police were making the whole thing up did the newspapers investigate and report it properly because the truth with both sides of the story sold even more newspapers.

Having dipped my toe into Journalism I can say with no qualms that I prefer to sit on the outside where I am free to both think and to write how I please. I have always looked at every story with scepticism unless both sides of the story are out in the open. Almost everybody has a bias on almost every single issue no matter how large or small. It is just human nature. So when only one side of the story is out then that bias will be inflated even more.

I urge people to always try their best to look at everything reported at the media with a backwards step approach to try and see the real story. It is how I work and it enables me to go against the seemingly unstoppable runaway freight train that is the media when they get on their high horse. Not everything we hear in the media is true nor is it even accurate. A lot of it is but the bottom line for the print media will always be the profit margins. How many newspapers would swear allegiance to the the BNP if this country became a racist stronghold and the profits were to be made from being a BNP backer? More than you think is my fair guess.

Make up your own minds people. Don’t let the media ever tell you what to think or how to act. We all have it inside of us to have our own moral compass and to act and behave like we believe is right. If a newspaper tells you that your neighbour fiddles kids and they are wrong but you’ve gone and bludgeoned them to death for being evil then the newspapers won’t be prosecuted for murder – you will be.

The media have become too big and too unregulated. I love a free press and it is one of the greatest things about the western world but the freedom of the press also allows the press to dictate the feeling and the mood of the people. It also allows them to spread lies and untruths should they so desire and many do in the hope that it will make them more money. Stopping them will not be easy but it is something that needs to be done or else more innocent lives will be harmed by the media and yet again the media themselves won’t suffer any consequences except for money – and often the money they pay out in damages is more than covered by the extra profits they make by printing scurrilous stories.

It is a sad day when you can’t trust the media to reflect the mood of the people but that is the age we live in. The media drive the story and they’ll drive it to whichever stop they deem fit and they do it time and time and time again and that my friends just isn’t right.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

How can you react when the man you idolise turns out not to be perfect?

Few people that read this blog know me. Few people in fact truly know me. I am a loner. I live alone and I don’t let anyone get too close to me. Think Clubber Lang aka Mr T in Rocky III. I have always been this way. I do things my own way and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like the idea of setting out my life to my own set of goals. I don’t like risks. I like doing the right thing. I like living a quiet life. I have never ever truly looked up to someone…until a few years ago.

Several years ago my life was at an extremely low ebb. I had finished university and didn’t have a clue where my life was going. Then someone walked into my life. A person I have never met, never spoken to, someone who doesn’t even know I exist. However this person moved me with his teachings and the way he had handled his life. It led me to doing more research on the way he worked and the way he lived his life.

That man was Joseph Vincent Paterno.

There are a few people who read this and even know who he is or why I revered him so. He is (as of writing) an American Football coach. He is (as of writing) still the Head Coach of Pennsylvania State University Men’s Football Team. A job he has held since 1966. He has been on the staff at Penn State for well over half a century. 61 years he has given to the university. He taught a simple mantra ‘doing things the right way’ and he had the motto of ‘success with honour’.

This wasn’t just on the football field. This was in life. He taught all his kids that in life you have to do things the right way. There are no short-cuts. If you break the rules then you have to pay the consequences. He was dubbed ‘Saint Joe’ by the media. The university is one of only two major programmes in the States to have never fallen foul on any level of the NCAA (the other being Stanford). He had turned a small university in the middle of nowhere in central Pennsylvania into the university with the largest alumni base in the country. No-one else did he. He did it through his teachings and through football.

He gave his life to the university and to his kids as he saw them. Parents sent their kids to Penn State because Joe Paterno was there. A man with the impeccable moral compass – or so we thought.

The world collapsed around Paterno on Saturday after his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was indicted on 40 charges of sexual abuse against children. That couldn’t topple Paterno but then it came out that he knew something but didn’t stop it. What he knew we don’t know. I think we will know and we will hear in time. However that time frame isn’t clear. I have blogged on this already so I’ll keep this brief.

In 2002 Mike McQueary walked in on Jerry Sandusky allegedly anally raping a ten-year old boy in the showers at Penn State. Sandusky was no longer a coach but still used the facilities. McQueary was 22 years-old at the time. What he did next is something that is causing much heartache. He ran. He didn’t step in and stop Sandusky. He rang his dad and his dad told him to come home. He then informed Paterno what he saw and in turn Paterno informed his superiors what had been relayed to him. Both McQueary and Paterno did their legal requirement but the question of what they didn’t do morally is the pertinent question.

I will come out and say this. I can’t defend what Mike McQueary didn’t do but unlike most of the disgusting US media I can understand it. The US media is full of very macho men and strong women who know exactly what they would have done. They would have gone in there and stopped the sexual encounter and twated Sandusky and called the police. Obviously that is what we all hope we would have done but I have no idea what I would have done as a 22 year-old in that situation. I don’t know how as a 28 year-old I’d deal with that situation. I want to know how I would but I don’t know. None of us do. Would we freeze and run or would we intervene? Until you arrive into that situation you can’t know so I will not bury Mike McQueary over his initial reaction.

It is clear that McQueary, his father and Joe Paterno all should have gone to the police. In all honesty Mike McQueary should have done this and if he was unsure it is his father who should have encouraged him to do so. I know Joe Paterno is a father figure but he isn’t Mike’s dad and I think that this person should not be overlooked. Witnessing such an act is mentally scaring.

The fact is after Joe Paterno reported it to his superiors then they too failed to do anything. There was a witness who allegedly saw one of the most heinous crimes you could ever witness and yet no-one spoke to someone wearing a badge. Yes the man with oversight for the police was informed but he wasn’t a police officer. This is the decision that has toppled a man who taught me so much.

I am not saying I was off the road or bereft of morals before I learnt about this man. I in fact had and I do believe still have a very strong moral compass. However this man epitomised everything that I could ever aspire to be. He was a football coach but that was secondary – first of all he was a teaching and leader of young men. Many a wayward kid passed under the tutorship of Paterno and came out the better for it. He (and his family) pretty much built the library on Penn State’s campus with their own money. They gave back more to that community than I can put into words. They instilled something in everyone who passed through the gates into Happy Valley. Being a Penn Stater meant something.

Obviously I never went to Penn State. I’m not American so I went to an English university. However I wear Penn State hoodies not because of the fashion and not because of the football team but because it reminded me of doing the right thing. ‘Success with honour’ is one of the most wonderful things I have ever heard. To have success without any honour is meaningless. Success is secondary to honour.

In no form of life (to my knowledge) have I ever acted with dishonour. I have let people screw me over and back-stab me not because I am weak but because I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I treat people the way that I’d like to be treated whether they are friend or foe. There are people who have come into my life through various means but I have always been professional and courteous with them – even though at times it was extremely hard.

I have ambitions in life but I won’t get them any other way but the right way. I won’t stab people in the back or use people to get where I want to be. I will get there if that is where I’m meant to be. I would prefer not to do everything in my life that I wanted than get everywhere and everything that I wanted but leaving a trail of being a bad human being behind me. This is something I had in me anyway but this bespectacled grumpy football coach re-enforced those core beliefs in me.

Joe Paterno knows that he should have done more. It is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life. He isn’t perfect and maybe I should have realised that earlier. No-one is perfect. His mistakes were huge but I still firmly cling on to the belief that his inactions were not in any way part of a deliberate cover-up by the man. If it was then that would be totally devastating to me and I just can’t see it. I still believe he did wrong but not through any form of malice. It is something we all do. We make wrong decisions all the time despite trying to do our best but sometimes those wrong decisions can have catastrophic consequences and for young boys and families Joe’s seem to have done so.

So I sit here typing away as I come to the realisation that nobody is perfect and that his legacy will be tarnished by his inaction on this. He did so much good for so many people for only 60 years. I’m not just talking about the football players he coached but for the whole university, for everyone who came through the doors of Penn State, for people all over the world who tried to follow ‘the Penn State way of success with honour’ that he taught. He touched so many lives and yet now all anyone wants to do is crucify him for a mistake or more he made and all his good work should be forgotten because it isn’t important.

That makes me so sad it is indescribable. I know that Joe Paterno did nothing wrong. I think I know that anyway. No-one has said he did yet but he didn’t do things right either in this episode. I am in total shock and up most disgust with how the US media are handling this story. They have forgotten that Jerry Sandusky did these crimes and not Joe Paterno. They don’t care though as they have a lynch mob mentality. They want to take down ‘Saint Joe’. I saw a piece by the LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke today and in the middle of a column calling Joe Paterno everything under the sun he wrote the words ‘This is not about Joe Paterno’ and yet that is all he wrote about.

This is a horrific story of a seemingly vile man using his position of trust and his personality and cult status as one of the greatest Defensive coordinators in history to attack and prey on young men. It is also a story of how some people failed to act to stop it is a seamless fashion. There is plenty of blame to be thrown around but Jerry Sandusky if he did these unspeakable crimes is the man who deserves the ire. Joe Paterno failed but there are plenty of other people who failed to a larger degree but they aren’t the story because they are not Joseph Vincent Paterno. The media are driving this one and they will not let it go because the media are now our moral concious. Something that I believe is one of the biggest problems we face as a society but that is an issue for another day.

For now I am deeply saddened and troubled by this whole situation. I am troubled that so many lives were affected when it could have been stopped at so many points along the path but also I am saddened that this is how the Joe Paterno era is going to end. I have no idea if Joe Paterno will still be the Head Football Coach at Penn State by the time I wake up in the morning. If he is then I suspect he coaches on Saturday. The Board of Trustees are meeting tonight to discuss whether they should fire him. It could go either way.

I fear it will go down that they fire the man who made them every single thing are they are as a university because of the behaviour of one seemingly vile man and the inaction and mistakes of many others. Paterno will be the fall guy not only because he is the very public face of the university but because that is what the media wants.

Nobody is perfect. Not even Joe Paterno. That to me is like a new world order and it is something I am going to have to live and deal with. Yet I still would trust him with everything I have and if I ever have kids or grand kids then I’m 100% positive that they could not have a better role model in life than Joseph Vincent Paterno.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Jesy Nelson bullied over X Factor looks.

I am a bit slow at times. It has been noted. I didn’t realise that Jesy Nelson from the girl group Little Mix had been receiving nasty comments over the internet because of her weight. Now I don’t know Jesy Nelson and I have never seen her in the flesh but the same can be said of Sophie Ellix-Bextor and Natalie Portman and I fancy the pants off them. Do I fancy the pants off of Jesy Nelson? Maybe…

Look I have never even thought of her as large. I genuinely had never noticed her body or taken too much notice. The fact is she has a face and a smile that I’m pretty darn could light up a dark room. To me physical beauty is nearly always 99% from the shoulders up and this young woman has a face and smile of sheer beauty.

Apparently during a live show a couple of weeks back (I must have missed it) she said the following:

“People are writing a few nasty comments. It just got to me a little bit. Obviously when you’ve got your own insecurities and then when people go and tell you, and write them on websites for everyone to see, it just makes you feel really rubbish.’

“Being in a girl group with three beautiful girls, who are obviously a lot slimmer and smaller than me, and obviously I know I’m a lot bigger…I find it really hard when people publicise it.”

So I did a bit of googling and today in the Daily Mail she is speaking:

‘The comments really got to me. I knew I’d get nasty stuff said about my weight from the start. But it’s not until you actually see it that it hits you. I thought I’d be alright and then I saw it and just burst out crying.

‘I found it more upsetting that they were only about me. They’d picked me out specially. Someone called me a “fat, ugly c***.” I couldn’t believe it. I’m not a nasty person. At least, I don’t think I am! I just didn’t know people would go that far.’

It appals me that people go to the internet and become so personal – certainly when it comes to abuse. I have in the past spoken about other in a less than glowing light but it has always been because of what they have said or done – it was never a personal thing. I feel for the girl having to face bullying on such a national stage. It is never fair nor it is ever right.

Jesy Nelson is gorgeous. The likelihood of her ever reading this is shall we say low but if she ever does she should read that previous sentence over and over. As someone who has had a lot of confidence issues in the past stemming from – in part – not being the most gorgeous person on the planet you have to find that inner place where you realise that you are who you are and that what you are is as good as anyone else on the planet. When you find that place you can move forward and be a lot happier.

From that superficial standpoint of looks though this young woman doesn’t have to worry. She may not be a stick insect but she is stunning and that comes from a person with old-fashioned 20/20 vision. If she ever wanted a date with a 28 year-old dull blogger then I’m around. However I don’t think she’ll be needing or wanting me – she’ll have a whole bunch of suitors I’m sure of that.

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Early (possible) by-election alert – Southend West

I hope Peter Welch is in the weights room working up a sweat for all the doors he’ll be knocking on a year or so’s time. Ok maybe I am getting a little (read: way) ahead of myself here but Southend West MP David Amess is on the front page of the local paper today and not talking about female newsreaders smiling too much. A headline screaming, ‘Amess Told: Explain Your Council Tax Claims’ probably isn’t a good thing for the man.

Southend Echo David Amess

Inside the local rag details the claims Amess made and the amount he should have claimed for and here is the breakdown:

2004/2005 – £900 claimed and his allowance was £907 – good start for the taxpayer.
2005/2006 – £1,146 claimed and £946 allowed – less good for the taxpayer.
2006/2007 – £1,750 claimed and £946 allowed. Er…
2007/2008 – £1,700 claimed and £1,026 allowed. Uh oh…

For the three tax years from April 2008 through to 2011 the amounts are identical between claimed and received. The difference is before 2008 no receipt was required.

The local rag has done it’s research with Tower Hamlets finding out the council tax (plus allowable reductions) for the property which was allocated as Mr Amess’s second home. The investigation has showed up that the MP claimed £1,700 more than he was entitled to over that period. This number does not include claims on utility bills which are also under investigation by the Met.

David Amess has been a Conservative MP since 1983 representing Basildon from 1983-1997 and Southend West since. This is not the first time his expenses have been under close scrutiny and in 2009 on the campaign trail he sought refuge in a hairdressers from the local media wanting answers to the fact during the same four year period the MP claimed over £19,000 on food. I have been known to shop at M&S and even I don’t spend that much. In fact I spend nowhere near that much. You could get a takeaway every night on that type of money near enough.

Obviously there is a lot to play out here but there are questions to answer at the Met have opened up an investigation. Should charges follow then I suspect he’ll stick it out until the end of his trial. If found guilty though then Southend West will face a by-election on the current boundaries and if that happens then it might be a lot of fun…

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Further thoughts on the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case

Here is a comment I posted over at Black Shoe Diaries. I’m not a lawyer but I have been the foreman of a jury is a sexual abuse case against a minor so I have a little insight into how a jury operates in such a case.

From a legal PoV a lot still has to play out.

As far as we know the whole case against Sandusky will not include any hard physical evidence. There will be no physical evidence presented in court against him. The jury will have to decide who they believe – the accusers or Sandusky.

The only two first-hand witnesses for the prosecution will be Big Red and the Janitor. The defence will only have to discredit them or push either of their testimony to the ‘questionable’ pile and Sandusky may well be found not guilty.

As far as I’m aware Sandusky has a wife and several of these alleged incidents happened under the marital roof. From all we know the wife will not take the stand for the prosecution and will be a key defence witness. If she takes the stand and says she knows nothing, she saw nothing, heard nothing and is perceived as a credible witness she is a very key witness in this case.

Also the charges stem back what 17 years, it will only need the defence to discredit two or three of the accusers – heck even one – and the jury will suddenly shift to being far more concerned. The fact that no-one filed police charges until 2009 will also concern the jury. If it comes out under oath that the accusers told their parents and the parents did nothing then a jury will struggle with this as why should they believe testimony when their parents didn’t even believe it when it first came up.

I don’t like being that guy but I was the foreman of a jury in a very similar case and we found the defendant not guilty on all charges (it was a step-dad charged with abusing his step-children) and as a jury we could not get over the fact the mother didn’t believe her own child and only reported the case weeks later after she confided in other parents what her daughter had said.

I have no idea if Sandusky is guilty or not. I’m just saying the legal process has to play out and all the defence has to do is discredit one or two people to the point where a jury doesn’t believe their testimony and they’ll find him not guilty.

As for JoePa. Reading the national writers today they all think he should go. They though like you or I don’t know what Paterno did or didn’t do beyond the fact that legally he did everything right. Did he follow up with Curley/Schultz? We don’t know but until I see a reason to blame JoePa on any moral ground then I’ll fully back him.

Innocent until proven guilty is a very important motto – and legally that word proven is vital and something I think most people overlook unless they are actually sitting as a juror. Thinking he’s guilty after the evidence isn’t enough. They have to believe it.

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Jerry Sandusky charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse. Others implicated in a potential cover-up

Well. This might be the hardest blog post I’ve sat down and written since I started this blog. It might be the hardest piece of writing I have ever sat down to do. Whenever you are writing about such serious crimes it is going to be hard and I’ve read the indictment in full…

Yesterday a Grand Jury indicted Jerry Sandusky with forty counts of sexual abuse against children. I doubt many (if any) regular or even semi-regular readers of this blog know who this man is so I’ll tell you. He was the former Defensive Coordinator at Penn State and was considered to be the natural heir to the man to whom I have more respect than any other person alive today that I have never met – Joe Paterno.

67 year-old Sandusky was on Joe Paterno’s staff for thirty years and was the person who led Penn State’s defense in the national title years of 1982 and 1986. The defensive scheme in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl is still to this day the greatest defense I have seen on a football field. The greatest offense ever seen in college football was shutdown by Penn State. Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde was intercepted five times that night including on 4th Down and Goal with nine seconds remaining. It was Sandusky who created ‘Linebacker U’ but his on field achievement seem so worthless today.

The charges and the Grand Jury’s indictment is ugly and to be honest a horrific account of long-term abuse against minors. Within 24 hours though the story moved on as others have been implicated. The AD at Penn State Tim Curley has been charged with perjury as has Gary Schultz the vice president for finance and business. As part of his job Schultz was also responsible for overlooking university police. Their charges stem from an incident in 2002 which sadly will taint Joe Paterno despite him not doing anything wrong.

That incident revolves around a grad assistant witnessing Sandusky abusing a boy on the Penn State campus. That grad assistant may well have been Big Red Mike McQueary but that isn’t gospel but it seems like the case. The grad assistant informed his father to what he witnessed and his father told him to come home. The next day McQueary visited the Paterno home and told the coach what he saw. The coach then informed both Curley and Schultz as he was meant to. This is all from Paterno’s testimony to the Grand Jury from earlier this year. I must point out that coach Paterno has not been charged with anything to do with this case and will not be according to the Grand Jury.

Curley and Schultz have also been charged with failing to notify the authorities of a potential sex crime which is illegal under Pennsylvania law although it terms of seriousness it is not serious enough to warrant jail time. Paterno has not been charged because he did not witness the alleged assault and he did inform both his superior and the person in charge of the university police. Legally he has done nothing wrong. Indeed it seems extremely likely that Paterno and the grad assistant will be prosecution witnesses in these cases.

The evidence seems overwhelming against all three charged. Curley and Schultz’s testimony in front of the Grand Jury was essentially the polar opposite to coach Paterno’s version of events as the two charged never believed a serious crime had been committed. It reeks of a cover-up and the main question is who was involved. As more comes out it does look as though one of my biggest idols is in the clear but maybe we’ll never know.

In 1998 there was an alleged incident of sexual abuse investigated by university police against Sandusky which never resulted in a criminal case. At this point the coach was still very much seen as the natural successor to Paterno. Within twelve months he had been forced into retirement by Paterno and Penn State. Paterno had told him that he wanted to make changes and that he was out. Considering how loyal Paterno is to his staff it smelled like something was up. To me it smells like Paterno knew something wasn’t right and wanted up out of there. However as part of his retirement agreement with the university he still had access to the facilities.

At this point how I must stress that everyone is innocent and I have seen many a Grand Jury indictment lead only to a Not Guilty verdict in a Court of Law despite there seeming to be damning evidence. All we have heard so far is the prosecutions side of the story and this is one thing I can’t get about the US legal system – the Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has come out and said, “This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys,It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys.”

I just don’t get how an Attorney General come out and call Sandusky a sexual predator without having a guilty verdict in a Court of Law but hey maybe the US prefer a Guilty until proven Innocent stance from their legal officials. Why not say a man has been charged and then try him on the crimes? I often find that the more that comes out outside of the trial then the like likely it is the prosecution will get a conviction. That is just my own opinion though – I do not have the facts to back that up but in several very high-profile cases Stateside recently the more the public has apparently known the less chance the jury has convicted.

I have zero knowledge as to these charges and how it will play out in court. Lying to a Grand Jury is pretty nasty stuff however Barry Bonds is not sitting in a jail cell today, nor is Roger Clemens. So Curley and Schultz have hope even though it seems like they did lie under oath (and really why do that? They knew Paterno was going to say the truth so why lie to try and cover up your own either a) inadequacies or more alarmingly b) your own cover-up).

As for Jerry Sandusky who knows. He has strenuously denied all wrongdoing and the legal process will play out in due course.

What makes me sad at this moment is that Penn State has an almighty black-eye today and it is without a doubt the darkest day in the universities history. Coach Paterno who is a truly great man has a black eye just by association despite not doing anything wrong but all this pales into insignificance if the allegations are true because plenty of young people’s lives have been ruined by a sexual monster. Sexual abuse never leaves you.

For now though I shall stick by my old-fashioned ‘Innocent until proven Guilty’ motto and hope like anything that this is all untrue. I fear it isn’t but I stand by that motto. What it means for the future of Joe Paterno and the Penn State Football programme and the university as a whole I don’t know but what I do know is it’s a bleak day whatever happens from here on in.

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The Lib Dems crash amongst young voters…or do they…?

The headline that is bouncing around on twitter at this very moment is that in the latest YouGov fieldwork the Lib Dems are down to 3% amongst 18-24 year-old who intend to vote. The figure further fuels the talk of a dead party wandering into political oblivion but if we look a bit closer at the numbers I think we might get a sense that daily polling really is a bit bizarre.

Below is the YouGov in depth report featuring the main three parties with all the others marked as unsurprisingly others:

YouGov Polling
YouGov Nov 2-3 2011


But that fieldwork was done between Wednesday and Thursday. What did the in depth fieldwork lok like between Tuesday and Wednesday?

YouGov Poll
YouGov Nov 1-2

So what causd the Lib Dems to fall 5% amongst 18-24 year-olds in 24 hours? Did Nick Clegg come out and say he wanted student places to be decided by Russian Roulette in a new prime-time ITV1 show hosted by Ant n Dec and judged by Simon Cowell? I haven’t seen that reported anywhere. Did Vince Cable get secretly recorded as saying he was declaring war on students? Again hasn’t crossed the newswire as far as I can tell.

It is just an anomaly of polling every single day. Sometimes you just speak to a lot of people who like one party but dislike another. On the upside in 24 hours our vote has gone up by 3% in the Midlands but down by 3% in the South and by 4% in London. Either it’s another anomaly or Nick Clegg did tell all out of work southerners that there is no help and he’s invested solely in new manufacturing plants in the Midlands. I wonder which…

Don’t get hung up on rogue polls folks. That is all they are.

Update: In addition it has just been pointed out to me that the sample size for 18-24 year-olds is 87 on the 2-3 Nov Poll and 92 on the 1-2 Nov Poll. I’m no math major but I think there might be a rather large margin of error there…

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