Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Be Too Proud Of This Technological Terror You've Constructed

You know, if I was

- A gigantic, fantastically rich corporation that deals in megabillion weapons systems and I was facing a future in which

- Wars are likely to be fought with glorified model planes that cost sweeties to produce, then I too would

- Perform high-profile demonstrations of a new ultra-expensive anti-model plane laser gun, in the hope that governments would then fork over megabillions.

Of course, bullets and rockets will also shoot down glorified model planes that can be made for sweeties. So could other glorified model planes that can be made for sweeties, but then, the GMPTCBMFS don't cost megabillions to produce, and that could be bad for business.

Still, laser guns! Woo, queue up here for zap, bang, pow!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tu Quoque, Buddy

"If BP is found to have gained access to Libyan oil reserves by using a mass murderer as a bargaining chip then, make no mistake, any money it makes off of that oil is blood money", - US senator Bob Menendez, on BP's relationship with the British and Libyan governments.

Oh dear. Not that I enjoy raising the No, you smell argument to an artform, but really - if I were a member of a legislative body that regularly voted through trillion dollar defence budgets and was sitting on two wars, plus sundry bombing campaigns in several countries with which my nation was not at war...

Well, I'd still feel free to bash BP, but I'd be a little slower to deploy phrases like "Blood money", I think, especially if I was standing next to Chuck "Strangle the Palestinians!" Schumer when I said it. Given the prostitutional relationship that exists between US politicians and military tech/crowd control sweethearts like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, to name but two, the phrase rings a little hollow.

At brass tacks, it'd hardly be a huge, earth-shaking WTF??! moment to discover that BP and the last government had cooked up some Libyan skullduggery between them. It'd be a barnstorming, five-alarm head-exploder if a journalist followed some senator's little foot-stampy moral outburst by raising America's mega-billion, economy-propping, international death colossus as a negative.

I hate to be all Hey, if we're talking about this oil company's nefarious activities let's, like, you know, Iraq, man but really. If a gaggle of US senators want to drag hundreds of dead civilians into their bitchy, Gulf of Mexico gusher pissfight with BP, I feel somebody needs to go for the seven-year old's favourite argument - you started it, guys. If we're talking splattered civilians and blood money, I'd say there's a hell of a lot of Tu Quoque, buddy to be thrown around.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bokonanism

You have to admire Paul Berman for publishing a piece called "What You Can't Say About Islamism" in... the op-ed pages of America's top-selling newspaper by circulation. (Full text available here, due to the WSJ's paywall).

Berman's list of the things he isn't allowed to say but does is merely a retread of the points he couldn't make in his latest book but did, which is itself merely a very lengthy retread of the things he wasn't allowed to say but did in his previous, gigantic article, being...

1) I can't tell you, because I'm not allowed to describe the things Berman says in the WSJ, in his book, in his articles or in person to many, many people.

No, I'm screwing with you. Actually, the words on the page blur and jumble before the human eye as the reader fights to comprehend the unsaid arguments that can't be printed, spoken or transmitted because You Can't Print, Speak or Transmit Them.

I'm kidding. I do only mild violence to his argument if I shorterise it to because the Mufti of Jerusalem met with the Nazis in the forties and because some minor academics voiced mild criticisms of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a huge number of academics have lost their damn minds and become bastards.

Fear not though, for Berman is unafraid to question his certainties...

"But am I right? I glance with pleasure at some harsh reviews, convinced that here, in the worst of them, is my best confirmation..."

Similarly I imagine that, while casting an eye over rancid reviews for The Phantom Menace, George Lucas felt a swell of fierce pride at his genius creation and depiction of Jar Jar Binks.

All of which makes no sense at all, unless you realise that Berman is clearly a devotee of some form of ultra-belligerent Bokononism - Kurt Vonnegut's fictional religion, which held that the path to true happiness lay in the conscious adoption pleasing but blatantly untrue beliefs, or Foma.

Beset upon all sides by wrang-wrangs (Indecent academics), Berman and his karass (Followers) are thus able to follow their wampeter (Raision d'etre) into whatever pool-pah (shitstorm) it may lead them, even if that's a paid opportunity to plug Berman's book.

This would certainly explain Berman's stated belief that, following the invasion of Iraq, it was everyone's duty to then begin fervently rooting for peace and democracy, with the inevitable result of (cough, cough, mumble) defeat of terrorism and magical ponies, or something.

The only problem is that Foma are meant to be harmless, and Berman's schtick... Well, sometimes pool-pah exceeds the power of humans to comment, as Bokonon would say.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Works a Smart Person Can Avoid, If He Doesn't Fancy Studying English Lit. Properly

I like to think of myself as being pretty well-read, but I have never read -

Wuthering Heights; A Tale Of Two Cities; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Middlemarch; Jude The Obscure; Sense And Sensibility; The Iliad; Moby Dick; War And Peace; The Brothers Karamazov; Far From The Madding Crowd; The Turn of the Screw; Sid Arthur; Pilgrim's Progress; Clarissa; Tom Jones; Tristram Shandy; Ulysses; The Odyssey; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; The Tin Drum; On The Road; Lucky Jim; Lady Chatterley's Lover; The Rainbow; Daniel Deronda; Madame Bovary; The Scarlet Letter; Jane Eyre; Emma; David Copperfield; Vanity Fair; Paradise Lost; Rashomon; Great Expectations; Little Women; Oliver Twist; The Count of Monte Cristo; Doctor Zhivago; Ethan Frome; Ivanhoe; Anna Karenina; Bleak House; The Divine Comedy; Great Expectations; Les Miserables; Mill On The Floss; Moby Dick; Northanger Abbey; Pygmalion; The Turn of the Screw; Silas Marner; A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court; The Three Musketeers; The Old Man and the Sea etcetera...

Note to Googling students: You can only get through an academic course with this level of ignorance if you are a collossal bullshitter of superhuman proportions, like I am. Achieving anything with my level of ovine ignorance requires an amazing talent for inventing vast amounts of utter bullshit on the spot.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Proposition

In light of the following absolute facts and educated assumptions...

- That the coalition of western powers have now had ground troops in Afghanistan for almost a decade, taking hundreds of casualties both killed and wounded, and yet our enemies appear to be stronger than ever;

- That we still appear to be labouring un
der the pretence that we are fighting "The Taliban", rather than a motley crew of regular Taliban militiamen, Pakistani jihadists and a vastly greater number of ordinary Pashtun tribesmen;

- That even now, our continue
d presence is entirely based upon the false notion that our forces are not fighting Pashtun tribesmen, but are in fact fighting the first successful yet unsupported insurgency in modern history;

- That the size of yer actual "Al Qae
da" forces in-theatre is possibly as small as 100;

- That the Unite
d States military has spent years bombing not one, but two countries in the area with which it isn't officially at war;

- That we have no idea whatsoever how many civilians our armed forces have killed, but that we do know it's probably a whacking great number;

- That the government of Afghanistan, which our leaders hope will provide security and stability, is actually the second most corrupt on Earth;

- That the net result of our highly violent attempts to destroy our foes has been to turn vast tracts of Afghanistan and Pakistan into no-go areas filled with an exponentially larger number of hardened and highly-skilled anti-western combat veterans than were in situ before deployment;

- And that our goals in Afghanistan have now been reduced from "total victory followed by stable democracy" to "denying our enemies control of that country indefinitely, followed by ignominious withdrawal at an unspecified future date",

...That it woul
d've been wiser and more useful in military and diplomatic terms; more humane, productive and billions of pounds less expensive if the US and Britain had responded to 9/11 by...

- Crashing two planeloa
ds of US marines into the centre of a randomly-chosen Afghan city at 700 mph, or

-
Executing 300 randomly-chosen British squaddies by firing squa
d, or

- Not respon
ding at all.

Discuss.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Double Standard

So it's all cheeky and hilarious when the ladies are going on about their "Rampant Rabbits" with their seven speeds and authentic thrusting action, and what have you. It's all glasses of wine and giggles then, but if you so much as mention your inflatable woman, they'll call you a pervert and a creepy little twerp.

It's no won
der the country's going down the pan, if you ask me.