Thursday, January 30, 2014

Syriasly, Yo

This was a couple of weeks back, but ties nicely into the current, frustrated state of the UK's Surely bombs will resolve (whatever) war enthusiasts.

Ever since the current round of Syria talks in Geneva began, my Twitter timeline has been filled with harrumphs and wails and complaints - Oh, why are we so weak and ineffectual?  I'm sick and tired of us sitting on our hands and doing nothing while Assad massacres his people.  We will regret our weak, do-nothing attitude in future, because doing nothing encourages jihadists and is effectively pro-Assad. Oh, the Horror, the Horror.

This holds good if you view our fruity little trans-Atlantic Anglo bloc as basically benign, scanning the globe for ways to help suffering humanity, rather than an entirely amoral system of urges and impulses sniffing out profit and loss in every conflict and upheaval. 

Well, let's unpick the Why Are We So Indifferent analysis of the situation a bit and try to address a few of the complexities here...

Why are "we"

First up and most obvious, let's just note that "we" never take any type of military action, in Syria or anywhere else.  "The President of the United States" will do something or nothing, but "we" - you, me and Sunny himself, good reader - aren't going to be included in any email trails on the matter.  Our opinions carry no weight whatsoever.

Furthermore, however "we" feel about the ongoing bloodbath in Syria, "we" absolutely are not going to spend any time at all garrotting Allawites in a trench outside Homs.  "We" are writing things on the internet, rather than eviscerating militiamen with a bayonet.

Why are "we" so weak and ineffectual

This one, premised upon the idea that since the US & UK haven't, I don't know, carpet-bombed Damascus to blazing rubble or napalmed a few loyalist villages, they must somehow be cringing in moist-trousered terror because of the Iraq catastrophe or something.

Well, no.  Britain's Libya adventure post-dated the Iraq debacle, and only thirteen MPs voted against that little jaunt, so I doubt the UK's martial spirit is quite so wrinkled and flaccid as some would have us believe.

I suggest that at every stage in the emerging Syrian disaster, both Britain and the Americans have done precisely what they intended to do, no more or less, and that they still retain the capacity to obliterate almost every human being in the loyalist zones in a few days...  And choose, from free will, not to do so.

I'm sick and tired of us sitting on our hands 

This one seems to be universal - "We" are doing nothing about Syria, alas and alack. 

And yet in reality, Britain and the US have been involved from the start, encouraging this faction and prodding this country here, laying down the law to that faction and nation there, and generally handing out advice and armaments on a whim.

The US has been loudly signalling from the start that it won't accept any outcome short of the Assads stepping down, terms which - in an amazing coincidence - are utterly unacceptable to the regime.  It's also been encouraging the rebels throughout, organising meetings and dishing out kit; denouncing the Russians, Chinese and Iranians in fiery tones and generally waving its dick around like it had a big stake in the outcome.  Which it kind of does, but not in the way that most folk would think.

So again, no.  Barack Obama is the most powerful human being on Earth.  If he was nursing a raging war-boner for Assad, literally nothing could've prevented him from kicking arse and taking names with the world's most terrifying arsenal.

Despite all the horrified gasps over Labour's vote against "limited strikes", do you really think that one politician politely asking for some semblance of a plan would've derailed the invasion of Iraq, or even slowed our Gee-Whizz regime-change scam in Libya?  I'm guessing no, not at all. 

"We" are doing exactly what "we" always intended to do - trying to feed and tamp the conflict as necessary, and making a big fucking song and dance about how very moral we are while doing it.  Remember however that nothing these people have done in the last decade suggests that they're moral at all - it suggests they're entirely amoral and pragmatic, willing to accept all manner of enormities for future benefit. 

Could "we" have done anything else?  Yes, but it's not the type of action that arouses the passions of war-wailers.

"We" could've been honest with the Syrian rebels from the start and said look guys, we sympathise, but we have no intention of seriously helping you out if you can't win, and since you obviously can't, you might as well ask for peace on the best terms that you can get before the place gets too badly bashed up.  

But we didn't.  Why?

We will regret our weak, do-nothing attitude in future

No, we probably won't, unless you imagine that humanitarianism is a primary concern.

You really can't miss the huge, region-wide war that's going on across the Middle East - at brass tacks, a great Sunni vs Shia barney with all manner of national, political and religious aspects.  The US is broadly on the Sunnis' side, while Iran are the big hitters among the Shi'ites.   The Assads aren't Shi'ites, but they have long been in bed with the Iranians.

So here are the three possible outcomes from Syria for the US & UK in the long-term:

1)  Knock-out victory for the rebels.  This is the ideal result for the US, since it removes a major Iranian ally and empowers the Americans' allies, like e.g. Saudi Arabia.  Oh, and like, democracy and all that shit that we care a lot about, as well.

2)  Knock-out victory for Assad.  This is the least desireable outcome but it still isn't that bad for the US because, even though the Iranians might regain some small portion of their lost prestige, the Assads still end up ruling a devastated, viciously fractious nation that can't even help itself, never mind its neighbours.

3)  The current situation.  Interminable war with no clear victory, endless gore and terrifying extremism.  Still perfectly acceptable to the US and way better than an Assad victory, since it's brutally grinding down almost all of their regional enemies - Iran, Assad, Hezbollah etc - and it's also keeping their allies focused on a pleasingly distant threat.   

Straight up readers, I'm telling you that the US and the UK were holding out for 1) and when they couldn't get that, were happy to accept 3) in the hope of forever staving off 2)*.

Barring an utterly unexpected outcome, Syria is a no-lose situation from a western perspective, which is why the only issue to spring from the war that really, really riles up the Tories is the possibility that all those crazy British jihadis might come home fired up to deliver the wrath of Allah to the Home Counties. 

You remember what President Obama said on the campaign trail, right?  He said he'd fight America's wars smarter and better, which is why he loves drone strikes so much - neat, quiet and far from the cameras.

Syria is just about the opposite, with one distinct difference from the Iraq war - the brutality of it is no skin off America's nose, and it's chewing up Shi'ites like crazy just as effectively as it's obliterating Syrian civilians.  Think of it as Iran's Iraq, if you will - after all, if our demented sojourn in Mesopotamia effectively handed the keys to Baghdad to Tehran, then this is payback time.   

Which brings us to

The Horror, The Horror 

And this is where things get sticky.  All those dead civvies look bad on TV, so appropriate noises need to be made - banging shoes on desks at Russia in the UN; bewailing the horrror, and threatening limited missile strikes which inconveniently never get the chance to explode.  Tsch, such a shame, we tried so hard, but what are we going to do?

What Barry O is going to do is the same as what he's done throughout, and what he's always intended to do - sit back and watch the fun without getting any blood on his shoes.

As war fans are always fond of saying, not intervening has consequences as well.  Take a look at our recent adventures and I find it hard to see what's going on in Syria that we didn't blithely sit through for most of a decade next door.

Readers, you might think this analysis is cynical, even nihilistic...  But on the very day that Tony Blair announces that the Egyptian generals staged a military intervention to save democracy via overthrowing democracy by force and shooting hundreds of its supporters, I suggest that this isn't nearly cynical enough.  

*You can reverse all this for Russia and China, although they have different but similar priorities.  Everyone is lying, folks.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Fuck Of Seagulling

I'm seeing a lot of this kind of thing about these days - alarming assertions that access to online grot is turning The Kids into a pack of depraved sex fiends, or at least the male half of The Kids at any rate.

The author's contention is that young men are now making all manner of outrageous sexual demands that they wouldn't have done without porno giving them big ideas, which I think is perfectly possible.  When things become mainstream after all, they tend to be normalised.

Nonetheless, the sizeable lacuna in all this is surely who's missing from this rollcall of young male depravity, and that's gay guys.

Now, I don't have any more interest in what gay guys are doing with their nuts than I do in what straight ones are, but I'd say that we have a pretty good control group there, since the biology and psychology are surely either similar or identical.  (Please forgive/ignore my scientific ignorance on this point).

I'm no expert in the world of gay smut, but I'm willing to bet that it's no more edifying than its heterosexual equivalent.  The anatomy might differ, but I doubt the gangbangs are delivered with any more respect or affection and I'm fairly sure that the recipients are more likely to be degraded than exalted.

So do we know what effect this is having on young guys in their relationships?  Are their partners following up that first chaste kiss with demands for instantaneous, arse-spraying mayhem?  Do we have a thousand tales of spunk-splattered youngsters complaining that their porn-addled boyfriends treat them like sex slaves?

And if this is some wholly new phenomenon, can we measure the extent of it?  Can we establish its effect and potential harm?

I wouldn't particularly want anyone jamming a boner into my ear unexpectedly, but how destructive is that kind of thing in a sexual relationship between consenting humans?*  Is it harmful enough to require state intervention?  Because if we can measure all this, is the government's long, scaly proboscis the correct organ to be ramming into the issue?

I mean, look, I'm all for sex education, but all I'll say about it as a panacea for porn-prompted golden showers is that the mandated drug chats they gave us at school did a wonderful job of making up pupils' minds on which pills and powders would be most suitable for them.

Maybe sex is now like that mind-crushing Altered States strain of grass that the papers tell me you can buy these days - weaponised beyond our fragile and wrinkled oldster understanding and buckled out of all recognition.  Who knows - maybe the world has changed in the long years since my adolescence and Kids These Days would be far more receptive to awkward lessons involving diagrams of naked ladies with arrows pointing out Acceptable Spunking Zones. 

Or, more likely, not.  It seems to me that kids already get a lot of sex ed along the lines of Your body is yours and you don't have to do anything you don't want to do, and that this is probably the correct teaching method.

And while this will annoy folk who would find it morally better to hector the guys who are demanding reverse exploding bumsex after a first date, it seems to me that it's probably more likely to have a positive real-world effect.

And this is before we get onto the seagulling**.

*The point there being the "consent" part, because if we're not talking about consent, then we're really describing a very different issue.   I suspect that consent is being elided with force in that Graun column, not least because of the following passage:

** Seagulling: "We need sex education because of a practice called "seagulling", a boarding school import... that has spread to some university halls of residence. It involves a group of guys standing outside a mate's door while he has sex with a girl, and then bursting in and ejaculating over her, all at once". 

In spite of the bits that strike me as credible, it's assertions like this that incline me towards filing the whole piece in the Bullshit Drawer.  I'd usually believe anything of public schoolboys, but anyone in the audience who's ever met any young men might like to consider how likely it is that this is even a vanishingly rare occurrance.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Doomed Attempt To Fend Off The Inevitable

Right, given that a jury in Cardiff have just ruled that it's legal to beat anyone you catch thieving diesel off you until you break both their legs, could we - just for once - forego the customary boo-hoo-woe-is-us circlejerk this time?

I realise that this is the kind of issue that generally provokes panic-stricken sobs of horror at the realisation that yes, it is against the law to smash fuck out of people even if they are stealing from you, and that you might well wind up being arrested and put on trial for it, even if you are found not guilty.  

Well, quail in terror no longer, for what we have here is a great example of the law in action - man pleads self-defence, man walks free.

I know that we all have those mad relatives and work colleagues who are forever blurting out sentences along the lines of  

"See if (theoretical criminal) ever tried to (commit hypothetical offence) well I'd just (alarmingly specific and detailed description of vicious and life-threatening assault)...  And I bet it would be ME who would go to jail..."

...but there's a reason why those folk don't draft policy, or practice law.  I suspect that it's mainly because the type of human being capable of working himself up to that level of blind rage via merely thinking about the concept of injustice is probably more likely to initiate serious assaults than he is to be the victim of one. 

So let's quickly dispense with a few likely complaints here that detract from the obvious legal message this case delivers, which is that it's fine to beat thieves to within an inch of their lives, if you feel adequately threatened:

The big whinge I'm seeing is that our Have-a-Go Hero should never have wound up in court in the first place.  A good number of HAG Heros don't but frankly, the severity of the injuries in this case were legally problematic on proportionality.

What I mean is, you're fine to clobber somebody with a cricket bat if they back you into a corner and threaten you with a knife, for instance, but you're going to have problems if you then chase them down the street for half a mile and hammer them to a pulp.

The first is self-defence; the latter is a serious assault, and possibly attempted murder.

Thankfully, we have places where people can go to work out difficult legal issues like proportionality, and these places are called "courts".  This case was heard by a jury of the accused's peers under our current, well-functioning law, and he was acquitted.  Hooray for justice!

All told, I think this system usually works quite well, but a lot of folk want to see the law on self-defence strengthened further and plenty of politicians have similar thoughts.  I think enacting this kind of thing could have interesting consequences for these people if e.g. one of their daughters is found dead with a knife in her back in a house with three blokes who insist she just went crazy and attacked them all but then, I'm not always right.

I've also seen a few people bleating because the thieves only received fines but really, if you think that having to be lifted onto the toilet every time you need to take a dump for two months because you've got three broken limbs is getting off lightly for syphoning somebody else's fuel, you really need to cut down on the coffee and the steroids.  

And so, this is yet another one of those calm-the-hell-down posts that I keep pumping out, more in hope than in expectation.  They never seem to work, mind.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Great Leap Forward

Golden moments in UK politics today as Chancellor George Osborne announced from one side of his mouth that Britain and Europe must become "more competitive" with China and India, while proclaiming from the other that bonuses at RBS can't be touched.

Or, in a shorter version - your wages, your employment guarantees and your social security need to be drastically reduced, while bankers will continue to take home bonuses of up to 200% of their annual salaries.

This is a fantastic example of political honesty in an era of smarmy spin, and one that I'd like to see becoming far more prevalent.

Now some might say, pish and tush - Osborne doesn't mean "deliberately screwing most of the populace" - he means that we need to slash unemployment benefits to work-shy scrounging Romanian dole-sucking junkies with fifteen children, who doubtless get knocked up to get their filthy, oven-chip-stained hands on plush council houses and so on.

To which I would respond that you are surely honking a packed-out crackpipe like an angry Dyson, sir/madam, for truly - axing the entire budget for housing and feeding Britain's unemployed wouldn't even put a dent in the disparity that Osborne is talking about.  Not even a nibble, as it happens.

Nope, if we're going to compete with the world's great sweatshops, somebody is going to have to take a major hit in their standard of living, and by "somebody", I mean you.

After all, the great advantages China and India have over the EU is that they have a near-inexhaustible supply of what the average Briton would regard as basically slave labour, usually working in conditions that every one of us would recoil from as inhumane at best, or fire hazards and deathtraps at worst. 

Still, I welcome this newfound frankness and suggest that the Tories take it to the populace at the next General Election.  This could work in two ways, as I see it:

1)  EITHER Osborne and Cameron could politely inform the nation that at they will "make us competitive with China and India" by intentionally inflicting vicious damage upon the living and working standards of anywhere between 50 and 75% of the populace, while also guaranteeing vast rewards for the finance sector, OR

2)  Osborne and Cameron could call for volunteers for the partial Sinofication of the UK economy.  The Tory voters of Britain, being the hard-headed patriots that they are, would surely flock to accept, say, a ninety percent reduction in their salaries, the near-obliteration of their employment rights, mass-dumping of arsenic and heavy metals into their water supply, and all those other fun things that make e.g. China such a wonderful place to work.

I'd take either, but the former sounds more feasible to me.  It's not that I don't have confidence that Tory Britain will volunteer in their millions to beshit their own beds, so much as that they seem to enjoy beshitting everyone else's so very much, and having to share even a fraction of the misery would probably spoil the spite.

Anyway, have at it, I say.  Let the people decide on this bright new toxic waste-tasting future of "competitiveness", and with none of the old 80s nonsense about "streamlining industry" and so on that we're usually insulted by.

A chicken stuffed with lead in every pot!  Every man, woman and child, a resource!  Every workplace, a blaze of creativity and a potential blaze of actual burning human beings!

This could be a Great Leap Forward for all of us.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


A great chance here for those who are forever banging on about the dire threat that "moral relativism" poses to western liberalism and our precious bodily fluids, and so on - Ariel Sharon has kicked the bucket.

Now, I'm thinking here of stuff like e.g. the Times devoting two-thirds of its Kurt Vonnegut obituary to claims that Slaughterhouse Five was basically Nazi propaganda, because it lifted an inflated death toll for the firebombing of Dresden from pre-notoriety David Irving.

Or the reception some gave to Harold Pinter turning up his toes, which was essentially to get the bunting out and the party hats on for the demise of "Milosevic's favourite writer" and suchlike.  Perhaps you can think of more examples yourself.

Well, Sharon's record on needlessly rubbing out civvies really isn't a matter of debate, unless by "a matter of debate" we mean - was he as bad as an Arafat, a Karadzic or a Kissinger, or just a pound-shop Douglas MacArthur with menaces?

So this is an opportunity for wailers of the OMG-the-left-has-lost-its-bearings-and-totally-like-supports-murderers-and-that etc genus to really get on their high horses with the denunciation, with no mealy-mouthed quibbling or It's totally different when white folks do it malarkey about a "right to self-defence" that isn't at all in dispute.

We're going to see some serious consistency here, right?  Because if Vonnegut was a scumbag and Pinter a bastard, then Sharon must surely be some kind of Cthulu-esque horror monster, comparatively, what with all the dead people and that.

That's how this works, right?


Update!  A deafening and surprising silence on Sharon from most of the nation's premier relativism-decriers, which is probably understandable - there's precious little milage in trying to explain to hundreds of angry Tweeters why mass-murder is different when our guys do it.

The popular press has stuck defiantly to the "controversial figure/two sides to Sharon's character" stuff in exactly the way that they didn't when, say, Chavez kicked the bucket, but that's hardly a shock either.  Modern liberalism, in the broad sense, prefers its men of violence to be English-speaking, well-dressed and trailed by a sizeable PR department, and Old Arik was certainly that. 

The Times landed squarely on "Flawed man of peace", thus demonstrating a far more compassionate and understanding attitude towards bloodcurdling, deliberate civvy-massacre than it was willing to grant e.g. the novelist Vonnegut, whose death was met with a fiery denunciation for the unforgiveable crime of having written some words in a book.  So it goes. 

Still, Sharon's snuffing it did leave us with moments of high comedy like this, from Britain's most viciously unforgiving denouncers of folk who defend violent people: 
He lit up Israel with the fire that came from within his soul and the country that was both burned by the power of that fire and basked in its warmth will forever be a little darker for that light first fading and now being extinguished forever.  

But my favourite is this piece from Martin Bright, himself something of a vocal decrier of apologism for violent deeds, who tackles Sharon's brutality head-on and discovers that it was... a bit nasty.  The title adequately conveys the content:
Sharon: A gargantuan figure, but his role in Sabra and Shatila diminished him.  

This is, of course, hilarious.  Sharon was and is popular with many precisely because he stomped on Israel's enemies like a crazed thug, and thus those sympathetic to his cause are willing to overlook all those occasions where he also stomped like a crazed thug on the children and family members of Israel's enemies. After all, if Sharon was "diminished" by his crimes - of which Bright only examines the worst one, mind - it sure didn't stop him getting elected.

Brighty's assertion here is fun, but it's a little like contending that John Lydon was a giant among TV swearers, but that his multiple fuck-sayings on the Bill Grundy Show diminished him. 

Now, I'm not that bothered by these countless Sharon/murder minimisers, since I expect it.  It's not like most of these folk are moral monsters or anything, so much as just people doing what people do.

All this nonsense tells us is that Nous sommes touts relativistes maintenant, or something - given the right person or issue, almost everyone "makes excuses" or "understands in context", or whatever OH NO APOLOGISM HAS MADE YOU A NAZI phrase you happen to find most congenial. 

The truth is that when it's convenient, even the grandest moralisers are just swooning groupies for a rugged man of action sporting the right set of blood-caked epaulettes. 

I dare you to look at any one of those Sharon divided opinion obituaries and tell me that the content is wildly different from the crustiest, crankiest old Commie going misty-eyed over some dusty dictator.  Try to imagine one of the top-selling papers running a Che Guevara was a collossus of sexual wonder, but his summary executions diminished him strapline.  No.

Which points us to the singular idea that everyone in the politics game, amateurs and pros, is a relativist and context-understander*, and this surely means that all those long, tedious fits of fainting and screeching over the awful leftist relativism we've been hearing this century were merely...  Politically convenient and humorously obvious bullshit.

But then we knew that - all Sharon's expiry shows us is exactly how hilariously obvious that bullshit is.

So this week's mainstream celebration-of-slash-apologism-for bestial manslaughter is probably worth saving in your memory banks for whenever e.g. Castro pops his clogs, when every pinhead in the nation will climb atop his high-horse to issue denunciations to every human being who ever smoked a cigar. 

And God, that's going to be dull.

*Egregious example - Tony Blair, arch-defender of Saudi Arabia's "Culture" and "Way of life"; Gadaffi-cuddler; Mubarak eulogiser, and globe-straddling hero of the anti-relativists.

The Past Is Another Country

Now that the Michael Gove World War I stuff has died down, I feel safer posting my view on that particular conflict.

I have a weird problem with the whole WWI thing and all our other wars, largely because I always try to look at our international aggro from an impersonal, non-national perspective, by which I mean - if I forgot I was Scottish and just looked at the situation as if I was some clam-herder from a modern-day, non-aligned Polynesian island, what would I see?

Well, World War I sure looks like a whole lot of Nazis fighting it out to see who gets to be top Nazi, to me.

As far as I can see, it all basically starts with a bunch of Serbian Nazis shooting an Austro-Hungarian Nazi, which kicks off a big row between the Russian Nazis and the Austro-Hungarian Nazis.  Before you know it, the Austro-Hungarian Nazi-allied German Nazis are squaring off with the French and the British Nazis, and the whole thing descends into a big Nazi-on-Nazi bloodbath before you can say "Seig Heil".

I mean, look at it.  Every major combatant nation in Europe sure looks like a bunch of racial supremacists squabbling amongst themselves to see which bunch of white guys gets to rule over the untermenschen of the colonial world, doesn't it?

It surprises me that the utter Naziness of the First World War is controversial, in this post-Hitler world.  If it did nothing else, surely the Third Reich should've made us reevaluate the merits of total war, ultranationalist violence in pursuit of global dominance?  No?

We usually curse the generals and politicians, so I won't add to that beyond noting what a bunch of Nazis they were, too.  And what of the men in the trenches?  I can understand the French defending their homeland from invaders, but what impelled the Brits and Germans etc over the top to almost certain death?  I fully understand the whole duty-to-your-serving-comrades thing, but not in such extreme circumstances.

Actions like that are totally unimaginable today, because we're more individualist and don't have the same webs of weird Sharia duty impelling us beyond our reason, but also because we're not now a huge clan of racial-supremacist Nazis determined to destroy our enemies for the fatherland, like almost everyone in Europe was between 1914 and 1918.

Hell, Patton was 100% right - war is about making the other bastard die for his country, so what explains adults charging machine guns, except for some deeply fucked up and insane ancient Roman-style sense of duty, of a kind that would strike modern Britons as utterly Nazified and mental beyond belief?

And back in the UK, it's not like our much-beloved war poets actually disagreed with the war, as far as I can see.  It looks to me like they wanted better and more effective tactics for killing the enemy, but nothing so bold as not fighting a gigantic megadeath war to the bitter end to see which group of white people would wind up ruling the planet. Which seems kind of bizarre, for artists.

Sorry everyone - I feel the pathos of all those bakers and miners lining up at the ladder in the face of certain death just as much as everyone else does, but the whole thing might as well have taken place on Venus for as much as I can get my eighties-raised brain around it.

It seems to me that the past really was another country - a pretty nasty and mental one, at that. 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Well, I'd say there were two sure facts about the outcome of the Duggan inquiry before it even started, and these were

a) The verdict would almost certainly be "Mistakes were made but everyone acted in good faith and they all emerge with their integrity intact, except maybe for the dead guy", because that's usually the result of just about every inquiry into public officials major and minor, and

b) Huge numbers of people were then going to go apeshit about it along pretty predictable lines.

Now, I'm reflexively inclined towards scepticism for the authorities on issues like the police capping civilians in the street, not least because we've had enough demonstrations recently of how major organisations, public bodies and businesses close ranks in a crisis. 

What I will say is that the immediate "It's a stitch-up!" response from much of the public is understandable, given the number of killings, stadium disasters and official assaults on the citizenry that were dismissed as mere mistakes made in good faith or the paranoia of extreme political groups at the time, only to emerge as the worst kind of criminal skullduggery thirty years later, once everyone involved is safely resigned or dead. 

I mean, look - if the authorities are capable of sliming out of culpability for a Hillsborough disaster or for an all-out militarised assault on the miners or a three-way conspiracy against the nation like the News International scandal, only for the ugly truth to be dragged out years later, that's going to encourage a lot of people to look askance at a Duggan inquiry, or a Chilcot one for that matter.

It's not that every controversy involving the police or the government is necessarily a conspiracy against the public interest.  It's more that even a vague grasp on the history of similar events should naturally incline the citizenry towards a healthy suspicion, in our own interest if nothing else.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

They're Scotland's Horny Shemales!

True fact!  The second most popular search term for Scottish visitors to Pornhub is "British".  Ironically, this glaring dearth of national pride suggests to me that the SNP are pretty much boned.   The data also says that the Scots are the most prolific masturbators in the UK, which surely vindicates the claims of many a visiting football fan. 

In the unlikely event that the nation does vote for independence, this probably means that we'll have to work out some kind of deal whereby Scotland gets ten percent of the cock-hungry sluts and manwhores, on a per capita basis. 

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at those negotiations - "They're Scotland's horny shemales!".   I assume that by 2016, given the Scottish Government's proudly pro-immigration stance, I won't be able to chuck a deep-fried Mars bar without hitting a red hot Asian babe. 

Bear that in mind when you tick your ballot paper with your left hand, fellow Caledonians. 

And How Do We Begin To Resent, Clarice?

In what's now becoming a regular occurrance, a TV station has broadcast yet another freak-baiting documentary in which a camera crew follows a load of oddballs or undesirables around, then picks the biggest zoomers of the bunch to focus on for our entertainment and disgust.

The subjects are usually grotesquely obese folk or ugly weirdoes who spend their nights frottering each other in quiet country lanes.  The sexual deviants get comedy Marvin Gaye soundtracks, while the fatties get humorous Oompah-Oompah tuba music as they wheeze up a flight of stairs.

This time it's Benefits Street, a particularly obnoxious piece of anger porn in which a camera crew follows around a load of residents in one of Birmingham's poorest areas, and then focuses on the most outrageous dole-dependent zoomers they can find.  Cue entertainment, disgust and creative descriptive violence.

And predictable as clockwork, many of the responses I see are just a hundred variants on the following questions:

Doesn't the media have a duty to inform, rather than misrepresent?

Is it a coincidence that they're screening this naked propaganda on the same day as the Government's latest assault on public spending?  

Why would Channel Four produce such blatant, exploitative drivel? 


Why not broadcast a show about the vast financial frauds that crippled the world economy and hurled tens of millions of us into poverty?

To which the answers are No; Probably; To make money and Because nobody would watch it

But all of this earnest angst misses a fairly obvious point, assuming as it does that the current levels of perpetual, piss-boiling fury at the mere suggestion of some unemployable dossers nibbling on hunks of government cheese is a media creation, or the foisted scam of a cackling government minister.

To that, I can only say that The Sun and the Mail are the nation's top-selling publications, and these poke-the-poverty-stricken shows sure do seem to get a lot of viewers.

Why?  Well, it reminds me of that scene in Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal The Cannibal Lecter lays some truth on Jodie Foster...

Lecter: ...Of each particular thing ask, what is it in itself?  What is its nature?  What does he do, this man you seek? 

Starling:  He kills women. 

Lecter:  No, that is incidental... He covets.  That is his nature.  And how do we begin to covet, Clarice?  Do we seek out things to covet?  

Starling:  No, we just - 

Lecter:  No.  We begin by coveting what we see every day.  

So what is the nature of the British public?  What is its nature?  As far as a large section of the public goes, its nature is that it resents. 

And how does it begin to resent?  Does it seek out shiftless neds to be offended by?  Of course not.  It begins by resenting what it sees every day.

And right here is the crux of the problem.  It's not like Channel Four etcetera don't try to drum up interest in real problems that are actually bedevilling the public - they've tried repeatedly to explain e.g. the vast scam of the financial bubble and the directly-resultant planet-fucking catastrophe to us, for example. We just didn't want to watch it.

I can't speak for my countrymen but from my experience, we weren't much interested because it's vastly complicated, deathly dull and impossibly remote from our own lives.  How does a coke-fuelled heist by a bunch of yacht-flaunting preppy public schoolboys result in an avalanche of job losses, shuttered high streets and me frantically dialling Wonga on the 26th of the month?  It's incomprehensible.

The BBC can plaster Fred Goodwin all over their bulletins, but it isn't Fred The Shred who's standing at the bus stop swigging White Lightning and screaming abuse at strangers.  Channel Four haven't as yet found a way to bring home the effect of a bajillion new Chinese slaves on our own employment prospects, but folk can sure hear those Poles on the number 27 bus babbling in their heathen lingo.  Thirty years of intentionally destructive housing policy didn't break into our front rooms, nick off with our telly and leave a shit steaming gently on the rug.

Now, scruffy poor people, they're as familiar as our own next-door neighbours - are our next-door neighbours, in many cases.  Most of us went to school with loads of the same folk now queueing up outside the Jobcentre.  The press can talk all day about benefit-sucking workshy vermin, but it only resonates with the public because we already have a readymade picture in our minds.

And so what, you might say?  There are millions of us who fit that profile perfectly, but are somehow able to resist the urge to rage-wank ourselves into a boiling frenzy every time the TV shoves some sniggering Ratboy stereotype down our necks.

True, true.  There are also millions of us who tune in at every opportunity just for the sniggering Ratboys, for the sheer thrill of a blazing rage-wank at the moochers.

I understand that one day I might find myself jobless and in need of some meagre financial assistance - hell, I've been paying for it for a decade and a half, so I'd expect it.  To me, having a job and paying your bills is just the least you're supposed to do, rather than a towering achievement that sets me above and apart from them but then, I'm not everyone.  A lot of folk can work themselves up to astonishing levels of rage over simply working for a living, while some others don't, even if they wouldn't trade places in a billion years.

So sure, all of this seething hate directed daily at the poorest section of society is exploited mercilessly by politicians and layered on in spades quite deliberately, but seriously - do the Tories come off like genius propagandists to you?  

I mean, take a look at the cabinet - most of them might as well be slippery aliens with tombstone foreheads and flourescent genitals, for all that they have in common with the man in the street.  This mob of gangling posho throbbers somehow don't quite strike me as master strategists, and yet most of those who elected them have more in common with benefits claimants than they do with rich people.  

Which suggests to me that all this half-focused resentment boils up from street level, and is only amplified by the Tory press or Benefits Street.  They show us Britain not as it is, but how a good chunk of the populace believes it is and - let's be honest - want it to be...  Because it sells to people who really quite enjoy feeling resentful and bitter, not because they're misguided, but because they're just not very nice people.

All of which is pretty depressing and likely to prompt folk to wonder what the point is in trying to make the country a more pleasant place for a lot of people who would gladly make it much worse out of nothing but spite, to which the only answer I can offer is - so that they don't take the rest of us down with them.

Sleep tight!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Me, Or Your Lyin' Eyes?

This Jonathan Freedland column is just great, pushing as it does the suggestion that barring his stroke and subsequent coma, Ariel Sharon might just have been the man to bring about peace with the Palestinians.

The title - "Ariel Sharon's final mission might well have been peace" - is fantastic, whether Freedland chose it or not.  And indeed, if I'm hit by a bus tomorrow, then people could say that my final mission "might well have been teetotalism", without sounding any more ridiculous. 

Back in reality, Sharon's "final mission" was pretty obvious to everyone who cared to look - basically, unapologetically ripping off as much land as possible, then building a giant fuck-off fence around it and lobbing missiles at anything that looks vaguely threatening on the other side. 

Admittedly this could result in "peace" of a kind, although perhaps not in the way that Freedland means. JF's effort is fun, in a kind of we-all-know-this-is-bollocks-but-let's-say-it-anyway manner, but perhaps a tad misleading.

Bonus points are also due for the implication that Sharon's war record is a matter of highly-partisan debate, rather than long-established and well-documented fact.  It's also worth noting that if anything, Sharon seems like less of a violent headbanger these days because those who came after him were a good sight crazier.

I do quite like Jonathan Freedland, who seems to be a nice guy in that wet, terribly earnest Guardian way, but seriously - if the Israelis ever need to hide a few settlements in a hurry, they could do worse than shoving them up Freedland's backside, since it appears that you could actually stick several hundred large houses, retail outlets, sentry towers and heavily-armed soldiers up the man's arse without him noticing.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

World War Wankathon - And They're Off!

"Today, one of Britain’s most eminent historians hit back at what he described as an “ignorant attack” by Education Secretary Michael Gove on his analysis of the conflict..."  The Independent, 3 January  

And with that, did Michael Gove win.

You might well disagree.  You might think that Gove's arguments about the "Blackadderisation of the First World War" have been roundly trounced and the preening politician hurled wailing back into the pit of churning, resentful guff from which he was spawned.

Well, no.  Consider - Does Michael Gove really consider the justice of the Empire's cause in World War One a vital issue?  Does Theresa May genuinely not understand how the European Court of Human Rights works, despite the legions of expert lawyers at her beck and call?  Does Baroness Warsi actually lie awake in mortal terror of secular assaults upon religion

I suggest not, and this should be especially clear in a week that saw 72-point screaming headlines about non-existent hordes of eastern Europeans descending upon England like a plague of locusts.  

Sadly, Gove's pronouncements are just the starter pistol for this year's WWI commemorations, and they make it abundantly clear that the Tories intend to spend the whole time issuing wacky jingo statements about unpatriotic academics metaphorically urinating on war memorials and all those scummy pacifists who would've left your daughters at the mercy of the Hun's depraved lust.

What does this have to do with the actual war?  Well, nothing, but then Theresa May isn't addressing any form of the European Court that actually exists, and Warsi's secular extremists are pure phantasms, and both intentionally so.  Neither are any more real than the planeloads of Romanians that never were.  

These rows are started for the sheer hell of starting rows and the angrier and more partisan they are, the better.  Raging barneys about bugger all fire up your supporters; they give the impression of solidity to mere waffle and subsequently fill newspaper pages that would otherwise be full of tales of governmental incompetence and deceit with flatulent nothingness...  And perhaps best of all for the budding bullshit artist, you can afford to lose utterly, since nothing was ever at stake and defeat is meaningless.

What would Tory Party HQ prefer in the headlines this week, do we think?  Gove Defends War Dead From Attacks By Snooty Professors, or maybe Brainless, Clueless Government Still Driving Britain Into Penury Out Of Spite*?

The sad fact is that there's no way of winning these interminable ructions, if you're trying to inject a bit of truth into the discussion, because the truth simply doesn't matter.  Hardly anybody reads extended debunkings of governmental cant on human rights or immigration, or indeed on any other issue.  Any response merely lends credence to the idea that a Gove or a May is making some kind of serious argument, rather than farting great clouds of noxious blah into the atmosphere.

If there's any way to tackle this nonsense, it's surely a mixture of laughing, pointing and then returning to the government's godawful record of malice and deceit across the whole range of public policy.  Facts tend to possess a power that fluff doesn't, and it seems to me that mockery should always trump mock outrage. 

Mind you, you'll have to go elsewhere for facts or skilled satire.  The best you're going to get from me is the observation that Michael Gove looks like some kind of pallid, bulbous-eyed, wriggling horror that you'd throw back into the water in revulsion if you hauled it out of the North Sea. 

*The British press being what it is, it's probably fanciful to imagine that papers undistracted by He-Said-She-Said shite would otherwise be holding a Tory government up to some kind of scrutiny.  Nonetheless, distraction is the entire purpose of He-Said-She-Said shite.

It also seems to me that this kind of highly-politicised row over patriotism and our wars is significantly more foul and disrespectful than anything Richard Curtis ever wrote, especially given all the vows not to politicise commemorations, but it doesn't seem much like many people care about that, either.