Transgenderism is a psychiatric disorder: its sufferers need therapy, not surgery

Friday, 15 August 2014

Transgenderism is a psychiatric disorder, yet we approach it as though it were something to be celebrated and accommodated. It is the only mental illness classified as such by the medical establishment that we indulge with surgery instead of treating with therapy. It’s time to stop performing sex reassignment surgery on sufferers and reconsider the options.

Transgenderism has been wrongly bracketed with homosexuality as just another sort of sexual identity. It’s easy to understand why: in the early days of gay rights campaigning, gays, lesbians and fellow travellers needed to stick together. The unfortunate consequence is that transgenderism is perceived as simply the next sexual preference down the list to accommodate in today’s tolerant, permissive social atmosphere.

Yet nothing could be further from the truth. There are people who believe their own limbs don’t belong to them. They suffer from something called body integrity identity disorder, which is rare, and generally affects white middle-aged men. (No one knows why.) Doctors, understandably, tend not to hack off the offending limbs to make reality concord with fantasy.

There are also people who believe that they are dead. This belief is known as the Cotard delusion. Medical professionals do not kill patients suffering from this condition: instead, pharmacological treatments are administered, which can be very effective. Patients who do not respond to the cocktail of prescribed antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs are, similarly, not bumped off.

So why, in the case of another, related and very high-profile disease, suffers of which believe they were born with the wrong sex organs, do we, rather than treating the disorder with medication and therapy, instead go about warping reality to conform to delusion? Partly that’s because we’re generally nice people, and we don’t like to deny someone who is clearly suffering, who has asked for something they think will help them and which does not directly affect other people.

 

Tech City News video producer charged with child rape

Monday, 16 June 2014

leydonChris Leydon, who produced video content for technology news blog Tech City News and was a freelance video editor for the Guardian newspaper, has been arrested and charged with child rape.

Leydon was charged with three counts of sexual assault, including one count of anal rape, and four counts of possessing indecent images of children. He was released on conditional bail in March of this year.

Leydon, 25, of Hardwick Place, London, who has been employed by tech blogs, tech events companies, the Guardian and even venture capital firms to produce video content, was first arrested on 15 March 2013.

He was later charged, on 11 March 2014, with anally raping a boy under the age of 13, and of sexually assaulting and inciting to sexual activity another boy, who was 10 or 11 at the time of the assault, contrary to the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

He was released on bail in March of this year on the condition that he did not contact either of his alleged victims, nor come into contact with any person under the age of 18 years unless as a result of unavoidable everyday activity.He is due to appear in court on 21 July.

 

Mo Ansar is a 9/11 truther

Saturday, 17 May 2014

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I suppose nothing ought to shock me about liar and fraudster Mohammed Ansar any longer, but occasionally an absurd claim or insupportable line on his ever-burgeoning CV does prompt a double-take. Why I never noticed this before I don’t know.

Here’s a blog post (which I’ve reprinted in full below, in case he deletes or modifies it) of Ansar’s, dated 2006.

Today we have the global media network, main stream media, corporate oligarchies and capitalist free markets economies. All perceive a threat by the advent of Islam. We have no conclusive proof of who committed 9/11, why the towers were ‘pulled’, why airplanes were modified, why steel melted at 800 degrees not 2,300 or the relevance of ‘Operation Northwoods’. The pleas of the families for an inquiry are denied and the evidence has in the majority, been completely destroyed. However, any straw poll will almost entirely state it was the Moozlims.

This is the language of the whack-job and the the conspiracy theorist – a man who has claimed some 35 professions in 15 years. And this is the man the BBC considers representative of British Islam.

Footnote: I noticed at the bottom of this post that a friend of mine, Telegraph blogger Willard Foxton, had apparently ‘Liked’ the post using the Facebook Like button. That seemed unlikely. So I looked at the HTML. 

Mo’s blog is set up so readers think they are liking individual posts but actually they are liking him on Facebook. The button therefore shows his total Facebook Likes instead of Likes for the post you are reading. In other words: if you ever Liked Mo on Facebook, you show up as apparently endorsing every post he has ever written. Hence Willard’s apparent agreement with Mo’s conspiracy theorising. Plus, you’re likely to see content from him on Facebook when you never intended to agree to that.

This Facebook button behaviour isn’t a mistake, by the way: it had to have been done on purpose to inflate Mo’s following on Facebook and give a false impression of popularity to his blog. It’s slippery, deceitful, petty manoeuvres like this that reveal Mo’s motivations. I can’t be bothered personally, but someone may wish to ask Facebook if this trick violates their terms. I think it probably does. 

 

Mo Ansar, the bogus Muslim ‘theologian’ who defends slavery and says Muslims discovered America in AD1000… while claiming benefits and appearing on the BBC

Thursday, 15 May 2014

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  • ‘Community activist’ Mo Ansar is a regular guest on the BBC who presents himself as the face of moderate Islam
  • Yet Ansar is a fantasist and Walter Mitty character who supports slavery and has promoted extremist organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir on social media
  • Claims he is an ‘educationalist’, ‘theologian’, ‘lawyer’ and ‘visiting lecturer’ but has no qualifications and has never worked at a school, university or law firm
  • The self-styled ‘expert commentator’ is also under fire for undeclared income from media appearances while costing taxpayers a fortune in unnecessary police protection, benefits and a spurious employment tribunal appeal

Mohammed Ansar, a regular fixture on the BBC’s news and current affairs programming, was engulfed in scandal this week with allegations that he has “sexed up” his CV in order to promote hard-line Islamist propaganda in the media, while presenting himself to producers, researchers and the public as the face of moderate Islam.

 

Here Are Just A Few Of The Things Mo Ansar Claims He Has Done In The Last 15 Years

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

mo-ansar“Twitter celebrity” Mo Ansar claims he has held down all of the following positions in the last fifteen years, many of them simultaneously. I have dated evidence for each claim. They are presented as a teaser for my forthcoming report about Mo without comment—for now.

UPDATE: this list now lives here, together with my full report into Ansar’s antics.

  1. Lawyer
  2. Lecturer
  3. Banker
  4. Imam
  5. Marriage counsellor
  6. Visiting lecturer
  7. Political and social commentator
  8. Jurist
  9. Legal advocate
  10. Educator
  11. Educationalist
  12. Speaker
  13. Grass roots activist
  14. Civil rights activist
  15. Social justice activist
  16. Peace activist
  17. “Interfaither”
  18. Theologian
  19. School governor
  20. Girls’ cricket team coach
  21. England and Wales Cricket Board coach
  22. Equality specialist (“15 years”)
  23. Equality practitioner “in Parliament”
  24. Communication specialist
  25. Child protection expert
  26. Prison chaplain
  27. College chaplain
  28. Professional Association of Diving Instructors-qualified scuba diver
  29. “The Muslim Bishop of Southampton”
  30. Community organiser
  31. Diversity consultant
  32. Film-maker
  33. Religious Education practitioner
  34. School governor
  35. LGBT activist (“almost a decade”, “15 years”)

Additionally, he says he has been invited to become:

  1. An archdeacon in the Church of England
  2. Patron of a trans charity

Thanks to the anonymous contributor who listed some of these here.

 

Two new columns

Saturday, 10 May 2014

As of last week, my regular Friday column on technology and media lives at Business Insider. The first instalment for BI is about… you guessed it, sociopathic tech CEOs.

I’ve also started a weekly column on UK politics for Breitbart.com, which you can find here. For a taster of what the Breitbart column will be like, you should check out It’s Not ‘Slut-Shaming Revenge Porn’ If The Bitch Votes UKIP.

 

I’m returning to The Kernel as a columnist… and writing a book

Friday, 28 March 2014

Since The Kernel joined forces with Daily Dot Media, I’ve been considering what to do next. And I’ve finally decided to write the book that has been burning a hole in my desk drawer for the last few years. It’s called The Sociopaths of Silicon Valley and it’ll be out in 2015. I’ve pasted a brief précis below in case you’re interested in getting in touch about it.

I’ll also be returning to The Kernel as a columnist, covering technology, media and society. The column will deal with a lot of the themes in the book – the intersection of technology, psychology, celebrity and society - and come out on Friday each week.

The first instalment is online now. It features east London’s “Tech City”, Lily Cole, Mount Kilimanjaro, Joanna Shields and Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus VR. And you can always find my latest stuff here.

 

Here’s what’s wrong with the ‘gay Establishment’

Monday, 17 March 2014

The dirty secret about the gay rights movement in Britain today is that there is no longer any reason for it to exist. All the big battles for equality and recognition have been won, and were won quite a long time ago. The cosmetic row over gay marriage last year didn’t affect the legal rights gay couples were entitled to under civil partnership. And, truth be told, there’s really nothing left to be angry about in this country, unless you count last year’s absurd campaign to ban children from using the word “gay” in playgrounds.

Talk to anyone who works in the gay lobby and they’ll probably agree – but only privately. You won’t hear anything like it, of course, from charities jonesing for taxpayer cash, or from magazines that depend on outrage to shift copies to those unmoved by oiled torsos. There have been widespread changes in staff at gay charities and campaigning groups recently: chief executives are burnt out and, more importantly, they are recognising that there’s little left on the rights checklist to advocate for. Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust are haemorrhaging talent and leadership, and gay conferences and campaigns are descending into trivia and navel-gazing.

It’s exhausting to watch the endless, cyclical hand-holding and whipped-up frenzy that can accompany the most inconsequential of discussions. This is what happens when rights movements run out of steam: panic, bewilderment and an orgy of self-justification, wrapped up in activism at the far fringes of relevance. The gay lobby’s mission du jour is transsexual rights, and the arcane and baffling new linguistic conventions that govern that complex web of transsexual and transgender people.

Today’s debates treat self-indulgent middle-class problems that affect barely a per cent of these organisations’ own members, and a vanishingly small proportion of the population at large, as though they were historic civil rights battles. Every transsexual in public life seems to “identify” their sexual orientation in a subtly different way, which creates problems for organisations like Stonewall, which have been used to representing relatively homogenous groups and who in any case are wondering whether and how their remit ought to be expanded to include transsexual issues.

 

We’re joining the Daily Dot family

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

This morning, I published the following update on The Kernel’s website.

Since The Kernel returned to your computer screens last year, reimagined as a tabloid magazine that would treat the web as a cultural phenomenon, rather than simply a technological or economic marvel, we’ve broken some of the most important news and told some of the best stories it’s possible to read anywhere on the internet.

Our stories have appeared everywhere, from the BBC to Time; from Gawker to ABC News. On a modest budget and with a small but ferociously dedicated team, we educated and entertained some 500,000 people a month.

During that time, we watched and admired another, similar publication flourish. The Daily Dot describes itself as the internet’s paper of record, and the team over there are doing extraordinarily brilliant work in approaching the communities and stories from and about the internet as people-centric news, instead of the same old boring and hopeless tech coverage you get everywhere else.

Sooner or later, it was inevitable that the two companies would discuss pooling their resources, sharing what they had learned with one another and becoming, through the combination of their expertise, more than the sum of their parts.

To realise that vision, as reported by the London Evening Standard this morning, we have sold The Kernel to Daily Dot Media. From 1 February 2014, our team will report to Austin, Texas, while The Kernel’s brand and assets will be rolled gradually into the Daily Dot’s core product. Shortly after that, I will step down as Editor-in-Chief of The Kernel to pursue other projects.

None of this would have been possible without the extraordinary hard work and loyalty of my team, the generosity and hospitality of the Daily Dot and, most importantly, you, the reader. You voted with your feet to demonstrate that quality journalism – important news, great stories and sharply-written commentary – can still excite people in the age of Buzzfeed.

Together, The Daily Dot and The Kernel will offer a compelling blend of deep-dive investigative reporting, entertaining features and gripping human interest stories. I look forward to tracking their successes and I hope you’ll join me.

 

The Next Web imploding, PandoDaily in shame… yes, technology journalism still needs to be fixed

Monday, 22 July 2013

July has been a rough month for tech blogs. Robin Wauters, a talented startup reporter, announced just now that he has been let go from The Next Web. Brad McCarty is also out the door. But they’re not the only ones.

Wauters wouldn’t be drawn on the subject and I don’t know McCarty, but I am told by those in the know that both Alex Wilhelm, who posted obliquely on the subject last week, and one other (very senior) person I can’t name yet are leaving the site, too.

They join Matt Brian, Jamillah Knowles, Anna Heim and Amalie Agathou as people who either left or were fired from TNW already this year. If you spot a trend there, you’re right: all the good reporters are going or gone.

“I have no clue which direction they plan to go,” says one source. “They’re clearly not profitable nor able to keep talent. [TNW] is going to stop covering news though, that at least I know.”

Meanwhile, PandoDaily has been humiliated in the most abject manner, immediately after having to deny claims that it has already burned through all its funding.

Let me be clear: I take no pleasure in any of this news after my own horror story earlier this year. If anything, it’s simply another cautionary tale about how hard it is to make a media business work.

I believe it comes down to quality, integrity and strong editorial direction. These sites aren’t turning a profit because they aren’t providing a good enough overall product.

If there’s any light on the horizon here, let it be more media entrepreneurs betting the farm on quality, rather than rehashed press releases and made-up news.

Because, if you ask me – quite aside from various financial woes – readers are getting pretty sick of the sloppiness, contempt for basic journalistic ethics and downright terrible writing that has plagued technology journalism for so long.

 

The Kernel’s mission statement

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

I’m being asked quite a lot by writers thinking of pitching stories to us and interested friends and colleagues about the Kernel’s new direction. So I thought I’d share a few extracts from our internal mission statement, which describes where we are headed.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 12.28.43

I’ve cut out stuff about reader demographics, which you’re unlikely to be interested in unless you’re thinking of investing, and focused on the sections that describe how our content will be different this time around. Needless to say, it’s an iterative process, so this is just a snapshot…

 

Obstructed anal glands

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Brian Sewell, to whose name it seems obligatory to append the word acerbic (I sympathise), is the best art critic writing today. On a weekend break to Cornwall, where I had the displeasure of visiting Tate St Ives, always a wretched disappointment, I finished the first volume of his remarkably explicit autobiography.

Here are a few passages that touched me.

I learned from them that love can be extraordinarily cruel and destructively submissive, that love of a sort can remain long after the sexual interest is extinguished, and that lovers can be lovers for years without ever understanding each the other’s needs and wants – Keith was both a sadist and a masochist, tormenting himself with whip and thong while longing for a victim, but Ramsay was neither and did not know how to gratifyingly respond. Only in Keith’s confession that he spent two thirds of his waking hours dwelling on sexual matters, did I find some reassurance.

 

One direction

Monday, 10 June 2013

As most readers will know by now, The Kernel is back. We go live on Monday, 12 August: in 62 days.

I thought I’d explain a bit more about where we’re headed, because there was a fun piece in the Independent on Sunday about our return but I’m not sure it made clear, as I’d like it to have done, that we’re making some changes to the way The Kernel looks, sounds and operates.

The first thing to say is that we’ll be doing a lot more picture-led features and we’ll be experimenting heavily with video, inspired by publications we admire, avoiding the traps of publications we don’t.

At its best, The Kernel was a mixture of whimsical, satirical fun-poking and serious, thought-provoking comment. With the journalists we’ve invited back this time, we’re holding on to that feeling of cerebral mischief while excising some of the more, say, vindictive excesses of the past.

That’s one of the reasons The Nutshell, our runaway success subscription newsletter, is not returning.

The other is that The Kernel in its new incarnation will be a more middle-brow, mass-market product than before. I won’t claim we’ll never again shine a spotlight on the hubris and absurdity of the Tech City project, or Europe’s bland and derivative tech blogosphere, but in general our mantra is to punch up, not down, and do so in a way that is intelligible to ordinary people.

With that in mind, we’ll be concentrating on more policy and governmental journalism, explaining and analysing the frictions that occur between the fear and control freakery of government and the disorientating pace of advance and innovation in the private sector.

We’ll also be covering more of the research, discoveries and businesses that matter to civilisation. If we were occasionally a little pessimistic in the past, that’s largely because we focused on the petri dish of the east London internet industry, leaving infinitely more transformative stories from the worlds of artificial intelligence, robotics and politics untold.

I’m particularly excited about our renewed focus on psychology and neuroscience. Whilst scrupulously avoiding the charge of windbaggery we will make more space for academic discussion. Then, of course, there’s the small matter of internet culture and online celebrity, which is in our blood and will be returning with aplomb.

Besides that, you can expect comment, analysis and investigative work in technology, media and politics, in particular in the areas of addiction, art, morality, sexuality, body engineering, augmented reality, love, sex, death, money and every other important corner of life that technology is touching and changing.

In short, we’re returning to our original mission: a blend of Vanity Fair, the Spectator, the Daily Mail, the Economist and the National Enquirer for tech: a funny, feisty, clever and compelling blend of satire, opinion and expertise that entertains as it informs: the one truly unmissable tech publication in a sea of derivative bilge.

See you in August.

 

Second chances

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Kernel2Suspending publication at The Kernel in March this year was a painful and humiliating process. I’d been too arrogant about my ability to run a business and allowed a combination of starry optimism and financial incompetence to bring the company to its knees. In the end, it caught up with me and I had to admit failure.

But though the business behind it was a commercial disaster, I am enormously proud of much of the journalism The Kernel published. All things considered, it was a terrific editorial success, thanks to the hard work of our brilliant writers.

That’s why I’m thrilled to be getting a second chance at making it work.

I’m delighted to announce that BERLIN42, parent company of the Axel Springer-backed hy! event series, is relaunching the magazine with fresh investment and a proper commercial team. I will at last have a proper CEO overseeing me, so I can concentrate on writing, editing and commissioning the best technology journalism in Europe.

There won’t be a Nutshell. There might be some ads. There will be a lot more video and picture content. And the vindictive excesses of the editorial (I’m talking to myself here) are going to be quite severely curbed – without losing The Kernel’s unique sense of humour.

But, yes: The Kernel is coming back.

The last two years have been an emotional rollercoaster for me and those involved with the project – many of whom, I am delighted to say, are returning as staff writers to the new and improved version 2.0. At the time of writing, six of the previous contributors are signed up to Kernel 2.0.

I’ve learned a lot about my own limitations and weaknesses. (To answer the inevitable question now in readers’ minds: I settled The Kernel’s outstanding debts personally in April.) It’s time to concentrate on my strengths, and I now have a team that will enable me to do just that.

You can read the full press release, which contains more details about what’s coming, below. The Independent on Sunday covered the relaunch in today’s paper. Their piece includes an interview with me and the new CEO. It’s online here.

The new and improved Kernel goes live on Monday 15 August 2013. In the meantime, I’m hiring. So drop me a line if you’re up for making some mischief.

 

Falmouth

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Good counsel for women and gays alike.

A girl can’t live alone, Mary, without she goes queer in the head, or comes to evil. It’s either one or the other. Have you forgotten poor Sue, who walked the churchyard at midnight with the full moon, and called upon the lover she had never had? And there was one maid, before you were born, left an orphan at sixteen. She ran away to Falmouth and went with the sailors.

- Daphne du Maurier, Jamaica Inn