Sunday, June 29, 2008

This Isn't a Crackhouse, It's a Crackhome

An encouraging development today in the world of entertainment as it emerges that tottering, crap-tattooed, warbling party disaster Amy Winehouse has decided to cut down on the crack-smoking and hair-farming so she can devote more time to punching her fans.

This is excellent news, although I can't help but feel that the whole mess could've been nipped in the bud at an early stage with some old-fashioned parenting skills.

I remember the first time my Dad caught me smoking crack. Did he say It's just a phase and turn a blind eye? Did he give me a clip round the ear and leave it at that?

No, he did what any responsible parent would do and forced me smoke the whole bag in one sitting to teach me a lesson. Tough love is the only answer, and I learned readily enough - crack is very, very addictive indeed. It's a lesson I learned again when I stole his TV and DVD player and once more when I sold them to fund my raging addiction.

(Stolen joke alert)

Of course, Ms. Winehouse's drug problems are just part of the moral sickness afflicting this degraded society. I can't even punt on a few rocks to the local schoolkids because they've all been taught to say No to drugs.

What is this country coming to? In my day, we were taught to say No, THANK YOU.

Manners cost nothing, children.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Your Blog Is a Budgie On a Skateboard


See the budgie?

Look at the budgie. Look at it - it's on a skateboard, isn't it? Isn't that brilliant? How did they get that budgie to sit on that skateboard? Boy, that's cheered me up, and entertained me just as effectively as any blog post I've ever read, including my own.

Sorry for the left-field intro, but there's this idea abroad that blogs are going to be the saviour of modern politics. Well, let me pop that big pink prideful balloon with the lit cigarette of dissent and let's you and I sift through the detritus, preferably while ignoring the tears and the temper tantrums.

Remember the last time you were in a doctor's waiting room, and there was a kid in the corner making merry with the tub full of Tonka trucks and toy airplanes? Well, that's blogs, that is - a furious game of Hungry Hippos for politics geeks like ourselves, played on lunch breaks while eating a Pret-a-Manger chicken wrap and a packet of salt 'n' vinegar crisps.

Your blog is a budgie on a skateboard, and that's if you're lucky.

Now, I realise that's not a popular opinion in these circles, but it's the first thing that sprang to mind after reading this.

Let me summarise for brevity - left wing bloggers are too fractious and silly to withstand the unified might of the titans of right wing interbabble, and we're now staring defeat in the face. Don't believe me? Here's an allusion to that scene in Life of Brian. Splitters!

Ha ha!

I get the feeling I'm not the target audience here, but given the fulsome circle-jerk that ensues in the comments thread I think it's worth picking up the magnifying glass and picking through the many layers of Wrong on display. Let's start with the obvious...

If I'm going to admit defeat here, I'd really like to know precisely what I'm supposed to have been competing in. An apocalyptic battle for political domination? Audience share? Artistic merit?

Well, wonder no longer - it's audience share, and bums on seats = victory.

Guido Fawkes and his wicked Right-wing pals are far more entertaining and they know how to write for an online audience: scurrilously, succinctly, directly. They are much more committed and actually contribute facts, stories and vitriol into the debate.

This, Charlie Beckett believes, explains why right wing sites attract far more visitors than left wing ones.

You might quibble that that means that Titanic is the best film ever made, but that's what you lot do, isn't it? Quibble and bicker.

Me, I barely know where to start. It never occurred to me that the ultimate aspiration of the blogger was to attract a horde of angry Thatcherites, cram them all into some miniature online Death Star and then blast off into cyberspace to zap Polly Toynbee columns.

See, this is and should be the nature of blogs - you'll find a wide diversity of opinion, because they reflect their authors and readership, and that's the way people are. Pick two random Britons and you'll be lucky to get them to agree what day of the week it is, let alone construct a seventeen-point action plan for the restoration of representative democracy.

Hell, I look back through my archives and disagree with half of what's written there. That's just human nature.

Of course, there are certain sections of the populace where you'll find broad agreement on a range of issues. Religious groups spring to mind, or maybe certain clans of committed Marxists... Which of course brings me to the big beasts of the online right wing.

You've got to admire the way that right wingers world wide are capable of keeping their eyes on the prize - money and power comes first, always, and they'll sweat the small stuff once it's their scaly hands clutching the purse strings. It's really impressive, in a slightly chilling, antlike, hive-mind fashion.

I mean, pick a given day and each of the big right wing blogs will teem with promiscous links to each others' pages, accompanied by fellatial praise and inoffensive, constructive criticism. You don't need to be a deep thinker to realise that one thousand guys jerking each other off is going to generate a lot more heat than a thousand guys going solo.

Because there's a unified vision here - a longed-for political nirvana in which the Haves have more and the Have Nots will be magically transformed into eager small businessmen, thus showering themselves in liquid assets. Crush the state, and it'll rain tits and champagne for ever more as humanity strives towards to its true potential, potential so long crudely obstructed by the socialistic paternalism of the Labour Party.

Try telling them that we tried this in the nineteenth century, and you'll get blank looks and exhortations to believe it'll be different this time. Let's not mention that the Blair/Brown administrations have enacted communist-inspired policies so radical they've been heartily endorsed by the City of London and Rupert Murdoch. Let's sweep the 1980s and early '90s under the rug, since they're probably irrelevant and anyway, they're cluttering the place up.

This is the politics of faith, something lefties should be familiar with and well wary of. Comparing this lot to the popular left wing sites - many of whom can't even bring themselves to support the country's largest left wing party - is like comparing an orange to an octopus.

You want an apt comparison for Uncle Milty's boys, I suggest you start here.

Which leaves us with the sentence that began this sorry rant - the one about how Guido and his wicked right wing pals are far more entertaining. Guido the fearless exposer of political wrongdoing, whose incisive commentary and insight bring us the astounding revelations that large public organisations are - gasp! - wasteful, and that politicians are - swoon! - liars.

This Private Eye without the gags, this Drudge Report without the celebrity nipples, this LA Confidential Sid Hudgens without the wit or charm.

Hell, let me rewrite that passage at the so it makes sense.

...Guido Fawkes and his (barking) Right-wing pals are far more (monomaniacal) and they know how to write for (bitter, angry Thatcherites): (artlessly, disingenuously and repetitively). They are much more (ideologically fixated) and actually contribute (dubious anecdotes, political dogma and puce-faced rage) to the debate.

Well, that ain't gonna fly on the left, not on the same scale at any rate. If someone emailed me tomorrow to say Hi, I'm starting a J.K. Galbraith blog about how right J.K. Galbraith was about everything, and how everyone who disagrees with J.K. Galbraith is bloodsucking vermin, fancy contributing? they'd be punted into Junk Mail quicker than you could say fuckstick.

Guido Fawkes? A budgie on a skateboard beats him every time for entertainment, intellectual rigour and practicality. The budgie might not attract thousands of bilious reactionaries or four hundred commented variations on smash government, fuck Gordon Brown, but hell, look at those little feet. And that precious wee board!

Awww...

Who were we talking about again?

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. - The Second Coming, WB Yeats
"Some shit hanging on a stick in a New York art gallery could come across as a work of art." - Jorge Valdano

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Woman's Drunken, 37-Minute Monologue "a Masterpiece of the Joycean Stream of Consciousness Form"

"And Another Thing," Inebriated Office Clerk Tells Enraptured Critics
The List, 25th June 2008

Critics heaped praise today on up-and-coming artist Eileen MacHendrie's astounding tour-de-force of narrative storytelling, currently running at the upmarket Hector's bar.

MacHendrie's astonishing performance, which began precisely 38 minutes ago with an impromtu critique of office politics in the modern workplace, covered an immense range of topics, from the interior design of the venue to her boyfriend Neil's suspect relationship with that little bitch he works with who's clearly desperate to get her claws into him. The harangue swung wildly from bathos and slapstick to grave introspection in a series of seemingly random digressions and flailing assaults on an invisible cast of offstage figures, all of whom appear to exist as a metaphor for persecution, rejection and alienation.

Critics were wowed by the ferocity of her intense, white wine fuelled performance, particularly the extended digression into MacHendrie's ferocious rivalry with Kate from accounts. "One moment I was convinced I was watching a genuinely obsessive and destructive psyche tearing itself apart with insecurity and irrational hostility," said Scotsman arts correspondent Eleanor Goodyear, "...But the ingenuity of the sudden tonal leap into light-hearted mockery of the barmaid's hairstyle stunned us all with its unexpectedness."

"Honestly, now I understand the critics who fell over themselves to praise the lyrical invention and humour of
Ulysses."

The understated delivery of MacHendrie's co-performer, long-time friend Janice Walker, has also attracted admiration for her capable imitation of the human reaction to increasing frustration and boredom, as her attempted interjections were remorselessly over-ruled, ignored and steamrollered. The audience were skillfully wrong-footed at the 24-minute mark, when Walker misinterpreted a mere pause for breath as an opportunity to respond, before her futile gambit was crushed mercilessly beneath the oncoming juggernaut of MacHendrie's forceful delivery.

The performance will continue in ninety seconds, when MacHendrie will return from the ladies' toilets with a four-minute rhetorical flagellation of Hector's toilet and hand-drying facilities.

That Office Is Full Of Wankers And My Boyfriend Is An Arsehole is playing for the next 43 minutes - admission free.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Total Bummer

Like most stand-up comedy fans my age, I got into it by stumbling across a Bill Hicks show - Revelations, his most famous, which I watched open-mouthed, unable to believe what I was seeing.

From there, it was only natural to go to the old masters, back to Richard Pryor and Lenny Bruce, but I've got plenty of time for Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock too. My computer's jammed up with old routines and skits from the seventies and eighties, Pete Cook and Dudley Moore rants and Billy Connolly's daftest and dirtiest gags. Name me any comic of the last forty years and I'll probably be able to pull up some obscure gem.

To my mind, great stand-up comedy is an unrecognised genius. Anyone can recite from a script, and lots of people can even do it convincingly, but the ability to grab an audience by the scruff of the neck and have them hang on your every word, or to make them laugh like drains for hours, is a rare and wonderful gift. Really, I feel these people should be held in the kind of reverence we reserve for the finest actors and artists, because when it's done right, why can't comedy too be considered art?

Bearing this great affection for the form in mind, then, I'm sure you can imagine how totally bummed I am to learn that the dude out of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure has died today.

Of all the great comedy performances, I can recall none finer than the dude out of Bill and Ted's turn as that old guy. Terms like "genius" are much abused, but in terms of comic timing, this was a titan amongst men, stealing scenes not only from a legend like Alex Winter but also the inimitable Keanu Reeves.

Whether he was solemnly inviting the audience to be excellent to each other, offering amusing asides to camera or merely speaking in hilarious slacker patois, the dude out of Bill and Ted was a genuine King of Comedy.

Truly, no man ever played comedy air-guitar with such pathos.

But let us not belittle the man as a mere bit-part actor in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. No, for he stretched his already considerable talent by reprising the role in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, bringing fresh depth and invention while delivering a towering performance.

So, as his comedy phone-box rockets up to that great Kiss gig in the sky, let us salute the dude out of Bill and Ted.

We may never see his like again - party on.

Comrade Davies Expelled From Party

Quickly - go read this.

Try only to look at it from the corner of your eye, since I can't guarantee that staring directly at it won't burn the stupid onto your retinas.

Got it? Children's TV guru Russell T. Davies has been expelled from the party for thoughtcrime.

Now, go read this, and tell me the guy who wrote the HP piece isn't some kind of determined satirist.

Really, I find it dispiriting. No matter the political movement, no sooner has it established itself than it begins vomiting commissars onto the internet, determined to wage kulturkampf on the unbelievers. Thankfully, this being Britain, the whole effort has a comically council feel to it...

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Atheist Thirteen, or - You Don't Have To Think God Loves You To Be An Insufferable Prick, But It Helps

I've been tagged with a meme by Shuggy, and since memes generally mean Sit nice while I bore you to tears, I see no reason to break with tradition - this'll be the longest and most tedious post I've ever written.

Hence, we have The Atheist's Thirteen or, as I prefer to call it, You Don't Have To Think God Loves You To Be An Insufferable Prick, But It Helps.

Without further ado...

1. How would you define "atheism"?

The complete absence of religious considerations from my life. Religion never intrudes upon my thought processes, ever, until somebody else raises the issue or, perhaps, someone tags me with a meme. I almost never waste time arguing with religious people, if I can help it, but I do find their practical and political uses interesting.

2. Was your upbringing religious?

Barely. They tried to jam Jesus down our necks at school, of course, but nobody paid any attention.

3. How would you describe "Intelligent Design", using only one word?

Politics.

If I can pretend that "one word" means "several hundred", many atheists seem to be incapable of separating religion from politics and culture.

Let's use the example of intelligent design - consensus from the Hitchens wing appears to be that it's simply a way of shoring up a tottering belief system. I think that's wrong, and fatally misunderstands the purpose of American wingnut religion... It's identity politics, pure and simple, with a southern twang.

Sure, they'd like to drag us all into their grand delusion, but Jesus-humping religion in the US is not aimed at turning the rest of the populace into Body-Snatchers pod-people - without us Godless heathens, they'd be nothing. Evangelical they are, but the purpose behind political Christianity is to whip up the believers into a paranoid frenzy, to set them ashiver with dread that the Godless liberals are coming to burn their bibles and lesbianise their families.

Think about this logically. What better way to keep the faithful committed than to give them a ludicrous theory like intelligent design, then set them flocking onto the internet like the flying monkeys of Oz to do battle with the unsaved? As soon as they encounter sane people they're going to face abuse, derision and mockery, and... No, wait. Isn't that a bit like how the early Christians were mocked and derided?

Persecution!

I mean, come on. The evangelicals are bankrolled by serious money, and you mean to tell me they couldn't come up with anything better than intelligent design? Hell, I know biologists who would take you step by step through the gaps in the fossil record for a hundred quid and a case of Stella. You're telling me the multi-billion dollar Jesus industry can't find a tame scientist to toss a few non-batshit talking points their way?

They haven't done that because it's not about winning the argument, and it's not about shoring up belief. It's about making sure the argument never ends. It's about keeping the rage and indignation boiling away, black and bitter, until it can be pointed at the ballot box and told Go Vote. It's about making sure the argument rages on forever, becoming ever more furious and foul-mouthed, thus confirming everything their pastors say about the villainy of unbelief and driving them ever deeper into devotion.

The more we laugh, the more they'll conclude that their beliefs are correct - that we do hate them, their faith and their "family values", and that they'll only face mockery and contempt in a secular world... Thus guaranteeing that their votes go to the candidate who shouts the loudest hosannas for The Lord and most vehemently condemns the abortion industry, i.e. the Republican.

It's win-win for these millionaire evangelists either way. Sucks, doesn't it?

What scientific endevour most excites you?

Archaeology of pretty much all stripes. I'm a bit embarrassed to be so backward-looking.

If you could change one thing about the "atheist community", what would it be and why?

Ladies, gentlemen, I agree with your points. I too believe that religion is a collossal hoax, with its roots in social control. I agree that it limits us as a species and wish fervently that it would simply go away.

There is, however, no need to be a cunt about it. I'm looking at you, Dawkins.

If your child came up to you and said "I'm joining the clergy", what would be your first response?

Who the hell are you? What? Well, I want to see DNA evidence, and even then, you're not getting more than five hundred quid.

Seriously? I'd be very disappointed and feel like I'd failed as a parent, but if it made the kid happy I'd just have to accept it.

What's your favourite theistic argument and how do you refute it?

Oh, the one about how there has to be a reason for all this, it must be somebody's plan.

You know, lichen can live on the tops of mountains, in the harshest environments the Earth can offer. It does practically nothing there, barely grows, barely feeds itself and little of any interest lives in it or feeds on it. It was there before we were apes and it'll be there long after our species goes the way of all the others that preceded us, and it'll continue to do nothing but sit on a rock emitting a bit of oxygen.

It's just there, pointless, meaningless, living a miserable existance, just because it looks rather like life strives to exist just for the sheer hell of it. Some plan, that.

What's your most "controversial" (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

Ooo, lots here. I don't believe that you're necessarily doing people a good turn by disabusing them of their beliefs, for a start.

My great-grandmother lay on her deathbed convinced that she'd soon be joining her long-dead husband and infant child in eternal paradise. Millions of people worldwide lead lives shittier than we can imagine, and draw comfort from the idea that there's some kind of greater purpose underpinning it all. Plus, and I hate to depress everyone, but even those among us lucky enough to live to a ripe old age will have to watch their friends and relatives pass on one by one.

Good luck selling those people a universe that's utterly indifferent to their existence and an eternity of oblivion. They may live in a fantasy world but damn, even I understand it.

Further, the idea that religion is responsible for all or even most of the world's ills is - and I use the term advisedly - fucking cretinous.

Take the Taleban - a nastier bunch of theocratic cut-throats you couldn't imagine. Read The Kite Runner and note the hallmarks of their rule the author chooses to emphasise - beard patrols ensuring the male populace are suitably hirsute, the sexual abuse of young boys, the subjugation of women and horrific public executions.

There's no doubt they're crazy on fundamentalist Islam, albeit a form that won't tolerate modern inventions like recorded music but has no problems with rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Problem is, from my reading, the beard-wearing, boy-buggering and woman-hating precedes the upsurge of deranged religion - they're Pashtun tribal culture, just as they were tribal culture in ancient Athens or Sparta.

Sure, they'll cite validation from the Koran, but when it comes right down to it it's gangbanger rules - the biggest and nastiest gets to be in charge, whether it's Stalin or Genghis or the Crips. Religion just gave them the kick up the arse they were waiting for to bring their lunacy screaming out of the countryside and into the cities. If they woke up convinced atheists tomorrow they'd still strap on their AK's and be out hunting for evil shavers by 7 a.m.

Oh, you disagree? The Mongols - the most terrifying people in history, bar none - found religion to be an annoying distraction from genocide, paying Shamanism lip service at best. The Roman Empire, famously won by exterminating the entire populace of cities that resisted, was no more built for the glorification of Jupiter than it was to edify chocolate Nesquik. The secular constitution of the United States probably wasn't much comfort to the tribes being pushed onto the shittiest land in the West at gunpoint, and that's before we get to the twentieth century, likely the worst for the man in the street since the days when he had to worry about bubonic plague.

Seriously, fellow Brits, here we are at the heart of what was once the mightiest, most calculating Empire in history, lecturing people to cut out their violent, God-crazed habits? Sure, I'm in favour, but I don't expect anyone to pay attention, any more than I paid attention to the smiling haircut of a minister they used to send to my primary school.

Or, to put it another way for those who think the term Cultural Relativism is a devastating put-down...

There are plenty of parts of Africa where the sudden dawn of an era of enlightenment and rational inquiry would mean a lot of enlightened, rational minds inquiring into how machetes could be made longer and sharper, and anyone who thinks otherwise is living in a bedtime story for polite westerners.

The innate desire of humans to fuck up anything unfortunate enough to get in our way is what made us, and not Homo Florensis, the dominant species on this planet. Religion and wrong-doing may know how to tango, but we humans don't need a spiritual partner to cut some bloody rug when the groove takes us.

Of the "Four Horsemen" (Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Harris I don't know and I've read only one of Dennet's articles. Dawkins, I find incredibly pompous and annoying, whether in print or on-screen. I've read extracts from Hitchens' God Is Not Great, and concluded it was yet another song of praise offered up to that great secular saint, Christopher Hitchens.

In short, none of the above.

If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

No question - Mrs. Rodent. She's not really a believer, but she has serious leanings in that direction and is prone to picking up ideas from religious friends of hers. It's like Whack-a-Mole, but with maddeningly glib anecdotes and trite suppositions instead of moles.

There.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Euro 2008 - In-Depth Analysis Cont.

Ill-tempered, bench-bound Turkish goalkeeper Volkan Demirel...

...And brooding Black Flag headbanger Henry Rollins?

It's like they were carved from the same lump of intimidatingly intense granite.


Update!: Seth - Springsteen vs. Del Piero...


FR - Pepe vs. Wee Man...

Anyone else?

Some Helpful Lifestyle Tips

Dear reader!

Are you one of those people who compulsively sends friends and acquaintances countless astonishingly banal mobile phone texts, for no God-damned reason whatsoever? Do you believe that everyone in your phone book is entranced by your revelations of what u r watchin on tv or that u saw that bloke out of brookside, the gay 1 wiv the funny eyes?

Do you wander the Earth in an oblivious bubble, vacantly convinced that every random splatter of incontinent thought that splashes into the empty toilet bowl of your skull is of urgent, critical interest to the rest of humanity?

Are you unable to resist machine-gun bursts of updates on the minutiae of your activities - fascinating insights such as I'm on the bus - bored - thus forcing your friends to wrack their brains for any other response than I hope it crashes into a petrol station, overturns and catches fire, before they fritter away five precious minutes of their painfully finite lives grappling with predictive text, just to avoid puncturing your ever-swelling, bovine self-regard?

Well, perhaps you've never considered ending your miserable existence by repeated stabbing yourself through the eyeball with a fork, or slowly forcing your head onto a screeching circular sawblade. If not, I advise that you give it some serious consideration, and I'd like to add that if you feel that you need my permission before you terminate your frivolous life in an act of blood-curdling self-murder, then you may consider it granted.

Rest assured that not only do you have my approval, but also my blessing and enthusiastic support. I'll even offer you helpful pointers on how to do the deed.

Quickly - read the instructions below and follow them to the letter.

Step One - Slam your head in a car door.

Step Two - See Step One.

No, don't think about it! Thoughts are for losers. Just do it... do it now.

You know it makes sense.


Addendum - Are you the type of alarmingly insecure and paranoid person who constantly searches through your partner's mobile phone for evidence of flirtation, over-familiarity or outright infidelity? Are you incapable of reading phrases like I'm on the bus - bored without concluding that this is, in fact, secret code for Please come to my house and pound my orifices with your throbbing, insatiable horn?

Be warned! You are squandering valuable time that could be spent on more rewarding activities such as chilling the fuck out, getting a grip or merely acquiring a sense of proportion.

Thank you for your time.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bowie, Mercury Issue Joint Call For Pressure-Relief Legislation
New Musical Express, March 4th 1981

Fans, Ministers Baffled By Minimalist Pomp-Rock Pronouncement

Musicians David Bowie and Freddie Mercury have called upon the government to enact extraordinary measures for the relief of pressure - pressure that is pushing down on me and pressing down on you.

"Pressure... No man ask for," Bowie states, confusing both fans and English-speakers.

Addressing the nation in a video released this week, the rock stars call upon ministers to recognise the plight of people on the streets, a demand that has been interpreted as some kind of half-assed allusion to the homeless.

"That's the terror of knowing what this world is about," Bowie informs puzzled viewers in the three-minute film. "Watching some good friends screaming 'let me out'."

Mercury, in contrast, advocates the introduction of emergency "love" powers, demanding to know "Why can't we give love that one more chance?"

"Ee dah day," he adds, somewhat cryptically. "Bah dah-dah-bah bop... Bah-dah dop."

"Bah-dop."

Close friends were unable to explain what message, if any, the film was intended to convey.

"It's as if they're observing that sometimes bad things happen, and that's a bad thing, so we should stop the bad things," one source said. "And that somehow love will conquer all, because love's such an old fashioned word, and love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night - whoever the hell they are, it's not entirely clear - and love also dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.
.. Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean."

"It's probably about the human condition or something, or maybe the madness of the modern age." The source shook his head ruefully. "I suspect drugs may have been involved," he said.

Neither Bowie nor Mercury were available for comment due to previous sex, cocaine and cocaine-sex orgy commitments.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

From There To Here - A Guide To Self-Loathing In Three Easy Steps

Walking up Waterloo Place in the city centre at five to seven yesterday morning, I was surprised and delighted to see a fox emerge from the old graveyard, sit down right in front of me, then trot off round the corner quite the thing.

It was a mangy, matted looking animal, likely a walking flea circus, but when I coupled its unexpected appearance with events later that day, it suddenly occurred to me - those pissed-off fox-hunting toffs really were right, weren't they?

Not right as in Isn't ripping animals to bits for a laugh fun? but right as in Jesus, this crop of politicians really are a horrible shower, aren't they?

Because we didn't just wind up with a wildly unpopular government that can pass astonishingly authoritarian legislation just for the hell of it, in the face of opposition and utter confusion from those it was intended to benefit, with the enthusiastic support of the public. It's not as if we woke up one morning and suddenly found we were being ruled by monomaniacal power junkies or that all of us, to some extent, had lost our damn minds with fear of neds, or terrorists or some other threat to the nation.

Lots of people hated fox hunting for its cruelty and barbarism; for its highly organised infliction of fear, pain and death on defenseless animals for entertainment. Not me, though - I wanted the government to ban it because it would really annoy wealthy poshoes, a desirable end in itself. My only objection was that it wouldn't lead to a screaming pack of Nigels, Tamaras and Nathans being hunted through the woods by baying hounds.

All those arguments the countryside campaigners deployed... That the ban was an illegitimate attack on freedom, that it played on popular prejudices, they were all correct and I knew it at the time and cared not a jot. Fuck 'em, I thought, let them be on the receiving end for a change. Even now I find it hard to say anything nice about them, the braying, bloodthirsty twats that they are.

It's clear now that the Labour government's approach to almost all issues has been precisely the same, whether it's benefit fraud or antisocial behaviour, terrorism or smoking in public places... Matters trifling, middling or massive, the response was identical. Just point out some bastards who everyone can agree are getting up to no good and taking the piss, frame it in the nastiest way possible to get us on board, then pass some wildly disproportionate legislation granting themselves executive power to do whatever they like.

And we fall for it, every time, because we all know it's true, don't we? The government, the press, they never stop telling us how every individual is hard-working, honest and plays by the rules, so everybody knows that whatever out-group is under discussion are chancers on the make. Why, anyone who would hinder the government doing whatever it takes to put a stop to it and send a message to those who don't respect our way of life is obviously out of touch.

Me, I was late in clocking the utter vacuity at the heart of the New Labour project - it actually took a bullshit war for me to realise that there was nothing there except for maniacal acquisition of power for its own sake. Once you'd made that leap, though, it was obvious in just about all the party's actions, likely starting with curfews for teenagers back in '98. Such things don't become progressive, desirable or reasonable just because they're proposed by allegedly left wing figures like Gordon Brown.

That's why I'm surprised to see impeccably liberal sites like Pickled Politics and Liberal Conspiracy asking how we wound up with a government that can grant itself the right to lock up whoever it likes, whenever it likes, for as long as it likes, on the flimsiest of pretexts, just to make a point.

I don't need to wonder how it came to this or search around for someone to point the finger at. All I need to do is go through to the bathroom and look in the mirror, and there's the culprit looking right back.

Because if we're honest, it was us - it's our fault. We could've stood up to any of these schemes at any point, cried bullshit the very second that Tony Blair and his pals whipped out the blade and began to saw at the salami, but we didn't.

Well, all I can say is that if we're guilty, we're just going to have to do our time for it. Just don't go looking to David Davis for leniency, because the Tories can interpret opinion polls too, and the polls are saying that when it comes to clamping down on misbehaviour, anything goes and anyone is fair game except for me and my wife.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Euro 2008 - In-Depth Analysis Series










Come on, raw-bottomed Dutchphobe Roberto Donadoni and mentalist Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne?

We should be told - it's not natural.

In Appreciation Of Culture

Meant to post this at the time, but it slipped my memory...

Musician Hugh Cornwell, on being asked by Nathan Barley-esque music magazine The Word whether his former band the Stranglers would reform...

"What am I going to get out of it? What's in it for me to get on stage with the rest of The Stranglers? What do I get? A cheque? I need something else. What do I need a cheque for?"

"Don't give me the, 'Oh, but the fans will get something out of it.' Fuck the fans. They got 17 years out of us. What do they want, Blood?"

There's no getting away from it - I just admire honesty, even brutal honesty... Having watched Perry Farrell try to convince a crowd of pissed Glaswegians that he loves Tennent's Lager, despite the fact that every pint tastes like there's a rusty nail sitting on the bottom of the glass, I know bullshit when I see it.

Incidentally, on the subject of honesty - those who are always demanding that politicians should give the public their true opinions should take note of what happened to Scotland's Justice Minister recently when he unwisely referred to the country's leading alcoholic urine product as "cooking lager".

His reward for sharing this obvious truth with the public? He was forced make a grovelling public apology to Tennent's and pressganged into quaffing the foul stuff on camera.

If it had been me, I'd have taken the easy option and resigned.

All I can say is it's lucky for him that McEwan's don't make their hideous lager any more. That stuff smelled like a wet dog and, for all I know, probably tasted nicer coming out than it did going in.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Some Motherfuckers Is Always Tryin' To Ice Skate Uphill

You know, I've been accused of self-hatred in the past.

Not literal hatred of myself, mind, but hatred of Britain, of the West, of liberal democracy, presumably caused by some kind of guilt over our imperial past.

I get a chuckle at that, since I live in one of the most venerable and beautiful cities in the country and have the freedom to do whatever I like, and nobody gives me any grief provided I put in five days a week at work. I love this place - I like how everyone's a cynic and a smartarse, I like the fact that the buildings I pass on the way to work are hundreds of years old and were designed and built at great expense by the foremost figures of their day. I love our awful national football team and the what-the-hell, mine's-a-pint attitude of fans for whom every game is really just an excuse to get pissed with their mates.

That doesn't mean I don't have issues with the country, how it's run and those who run it. Call that self-hatred if you like, but you know what? At least I don't have so much contempt for the place that I spend my days fantasising about how Britons deserve to be enslaved under Sharia law.

Now, that's what I call hatred.

Of course, this is the rather mental Peregrine Worsthorne we're talking about here, riffing on the batshit Bishop of Rochester's recent attack of the vapours. For non-Brits, the Bishop was complaining that not enough people listen these days when Bishops try to order them about, and how it was all fields round here when he was a boy... Worsthorne agrees and appears to have decided that the only way to save the nation is to behead some sense into the populace.

I'd say it's a bit early to declare that small-c conservative Britain's raging disgust at modernity has finally outweighed its hatred for foreigners. When the next opportunity for smiting some respect into the Other presents itself, I suspect it'll be the non-English speakers that'll be doing the dodging.

It's just the logical conclusion to the forty-year backlash, finally laid bare for all to see. As the professional disapprovers of the fifties finally slouch towards that great pastoral fantasy in the sky, how many of them could've imagined they'd spend their twilight years dreaming darkly of the day when the eastern invader will wreak their stone-flinging, lamppost-hanging revenge on their behalf?

Who knows, perhaps if Jihadists laid off the foreign policy stuff and concentrated on promising to persecute wealthy liberals, they'd find eager allies in the most unexpected places.

The day may yet dawn when Worsthorne, Peter Hitchens and Melanie Phillips discover Abu Hamza isn't such a bad chap after all, when you get past the hook and the suicide bombing stuff, and together they march into a bright future free of anyone who objects to state enforced standards of public politeness.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Timesonline, 2nd June 2008


Clinton Endoskeleton Rises From Wreckage Of Campaign, Vows To Continue To Convention

Advisor - Hillary "can't be bargained with... can't be reasoned with... doesn't feel remorse, or pity, or fear..."

Relentless campaigning machine "absolutely will not stop, ever" until she has secured the nomination

UPDATE!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

New Political Magazine Targets Small-State Libertarians, Arseholes
TLS, 1st June 2008

Celebrating its launch this week is Standpoint, a political magazine for small-state libertarians, one-nation Tories and horrible, appalling arseholes.

Editor Daniel Johnson believes he has identified a gap in the market and expects the magazine to go from strength to strength.

"There are a huge number of social and economic conservatives, religious reactionaries and bilious, pusillanimous freaks who are crying out for a magazine that can critique and condemn the modern era," Johnson told TLS.

"Whether they buy the magazine for its perceptive economic analysis, its passionate yearning for long-gone days of empire or simply for the Dyson-strength suck-jobs on their throbbing senses of grievance, Standpoint caters for a wide range of headbanging haters, small-minded racists and boggle-eyed mentalists."


"At this moment, when free-market capitalism bestrides the globe like a collossus, people want a magazine that will fluff their worst instincts by pretending that we are facing imminent destruction at the dusky hands of a multitude of menacing aliens... The Arabs, the Russians, the Chinese... In fact, pretty much anyone at all, provided they don't speak English or pledge allegiance to the Queen."

"For all of the idiocies of the modern age, this is a magazine that isn't afraid to stand up and assert the old certainties - that anything new or foreign is hateful and must be destroyed".

Standpoint is on sale now.

Two Sides Of The Same Coin



Like a nasty case of athlete's foot, there are just some things that refuse to go away and it seems the interminable wars between the pro-war left and the hands-off-my-Lexus-hippies right are the gift that just keeps on giving.

For the neutral, this is a win-win situation - like a battle between the Daleks and the Cybermen, Manchester United against Chelsea or Galloway versus Hitchens, the fun is in cheering every brutal injury in the hope that they'll inflict fatal damage on each other. In short, the more time they spend ripping lumps out of each other, the less they'll have for annoying sane people.

In the latest skirmish, however, blogger Ian has scored an own-goal so astounding that I'm quite willing to cheer on the forces of muscular liberalism. In an act of concern-trollery so blatant that I can only applaud, he's bitching about how this automatic BBC Have Your Say comment generator is an act of anti-democratic snobbery.

First, a quick sample of the kind of thing the HYS generator spits out...

"All right-thinking people know that the Scottish are killing our kids! The only solution is to bring back the cane. This is probably the best solution all around!!!"

Totally Disgruntled timbuktu

...
Which is a stunningly accurate pisstake of precisely the kind of cretinous babble that passes for public debate at that site.

Ian's take on this excellent scrap of satire?

"...like it or not, the comments on Have Your Say, Comment is Free etc are not written by computer code*, they are written by real people who have a vote in elections. The left are, as has been much lamented in the likes of the Guardian, seen as out of touch with ordinary people. Recent performances at the ballot box by the parties of the socialist left have been, frankly, pathetic.

Could there be a connection between this contempt shown by left-wing bloggers for the voter, and said poor performances?"

An interesting question, with a simple and obvious answer - Ha ha ha ha ha ha, no, are you fucking mental?

Because this notion seems to be developing and proliferating everywhere - that people who spout bovine stupidity, nasty conspiracy theories and thinly-veiled racism should be respected, simply because they are voters. Anything else is elitist snobbery.

This is, of course, utter nonsense, and in direct opposition to the standard right-wing response when told that the British people are overwhelmingly in favour of many policies that annoy libertarian bloggers... Generally, a lot of pissing and moaning about false consciousness engendered by the Marxoid BBC.

Allied to this, there's also the fact that most of the policies that right wing bloggers regard as Nu-Liebour neo-fascism - arbitrary detention, DNA databases, ID cards - have been adopted not out of a Stalinist desire to herd us all into re-education camps, but specifically to appease the kind of whining, self-pitying, race-baiting poltroon that spends his days posting glib stupidities at sites like Have Your Say.

The appropriate response to such people is as follows...

1) Point

2) Laugh

For dealing with those who consider such behaviour inappropriate and elitist, I'll add a third compulsory action...

3) Throw things

Anyway, ding-ding, round 132 to the pro-war lefties. Somehow, I doubt this means an end to hostilities, and I'm sure fresh opportunities to act the dick will soon present themselves.