Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Motherfuckers Gotta Learn

So, the spending review.  The nation expected a savage round of cuts to public services, but surely few expected to witness a cavalcade of thick-jowled chumps joyfully manhandling themselves to issue while some kind of gangling, pallid android hurled half a million people out of their jobs.

Watching the cavorting mess on the Tory benches was truly a throwback to the early days of parliamentary broadcasts on TV, when the public discovered that what had for decades sounded like a gaggle of half-pissed manchildren belching alcohol fumes across the aisle was, in fact, precisely that.

Anyway, what are the likely effects of today's festivities?  After all, while the backbenches clearly had a lot of fun arsing around like toddlers after too much fizzy pop during the Chancellor's ludicrously poor attempt at feigned regret, there's reality to consider.  Take those in Moray who found out yesterday that the closure of RAF Kinloss is about to frag local business to smithereens - what comfort for these hard working British citizens, tragic victims of straitened times,  in the budget?

Well, like all the other unfortunates bombed out of work in the budget, they've walked right into a crackdown on welfare.  Of course, I can understand why that is.  Sending a government official to half a million doors to tell citizens to Go Fuck Themselves in person would have been expensive.

The news is just as bad for those already made jobless by the financial crisis, of course, who are about to be joined in the queue for MacJobs by hundreds of thousands of experienced and qualified men and women1.  Hopefully none of them fall ill while they're looking for jobs, unless they enjoy state-mandated rectal cavity searches.

Still, the news isn't all bad.  As George Osborne himself has said, cutting government expenditure will create space for several million jobs to be created by the Magical Ponies of Fuckadoodle.  I paraphrase, but the meaning is the same.

I foresee good news on the job creation front, mind.  Demand for debt collection agents and bailliffs is about to go through the roof, while anyone working in the divorce courts will make a mint.  The budget would be a license to print money if you're in marriage or alcohol counselling, were it not for the fact that the government expects such services to be provided by the milk of human kindness.

In the wider world, I see that a series of Britain's most fabulously wealthy businessmen have all publicly popped great, waggly woodies for the coalition's plans.  The country's right wing press are already hard at work convincing the public that this shit is actually Shinola.  You have to wonder why the hard-working Briton's finances remain in such a parlous state, with such powerful allies batting for their interests.

Anyway, all of this is evidence of the great truth of politics - Motherfuckers gotta learn, again and again and again.  No doubt there are large numbers of people who voted Tory or Lib Dem in anticipation of an entirely ideological assault on the public sector, based upon market principles that have just been graphically blasted into space-dust by the financial crisis, an epic explosion of neo-liberal fuckery that left pretty much every major proponent of right-wing political orthodoxy standing in the street with their hairy knackers swinging in the wind.

Those people no doubt believe that, since the institutions they've placed all their faith in have produced such gigantic piles of toxic shit, there must be a radioactive pony in there somewhere.  To everyone else who marked their X next to the local angry, disapproving Tory hausfrau or toothsome Lib Dem closet case, I imagine this might be a bit of an eye-opener.  I mean, survey after survey comes back shouting that the public want the tackety boot of the state to kick everyone else up the arse.  Those that voted for crackdowns on lazy civil servants, mooching immigrants or hoody bairns are about to find that when they voted for death to the undeserving, the undeserving was them.2

The analogue is right there over the pond, where millions of people are about to stream to the polls to vote for a New American Revolution against the nation's Wealthy Elites by voting for... The Republicans.  I'm not making this shit up.  This marks, by my recollection, the third time in thirty years that this has happened. 3

Like I say, Motherfuckers gotta learn.  Education is the key to understanding, and the school bell is ringing. 

1 I predict there may be drastic cuts in staffing at Lib Dem offices throughout the country too, before long.

2 See The Torygraph the day after the restrictions on child benefit was announced.  Hilarious stuff.

3 Newsflash - American states aren't being forced to sell roads and parking meters to sheiks because the President is a Commie.

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Anti-Nostradamus

Right, off for a quick swim then it's up to the pub for the football tonight.  Some quick observations, just to show my amazing anti-Nostradamic qualities...

- The decision to drop superduper striker Kenny Miller will either make or break the manager, Craig Levein.  Despite Miller's abysmal, no-goals-for-years-away-from-home record, dropping him has the pundits and fans in uproar.  This is largely due to the Walterian standby of standing on your goal line and smashing every ball into low orbit, in the hope that Miller will pounce on a lazy backpass or something at the other end.  This may work for Walter Smith, but Levein isn't Smith.  I applaud the decision, at this point.

Nobody will call Levein a tactical genius if we win or draw, but the grudging credit he'd earn for the result might give him few matches to build his own team without the Glasgow media sawing off his balls and stuffing them down his neck.  That's exactly what will happen if we lose, and the campaign to sack Levein will start tomorrow.  Prediction - nobody will be able to think of a better replacement than Levein, but that won't stop anyone complaining.

-  By picking only three outfield players from the SPL, the manager is explicitly saying that the SPL is utterly terrible and its players incapable of playing at this level.  He's probably right.

- All-out-defence won't work for Levein.  He's not Walter and Scotland aren't Rangers - neither has to worry about MacManus or Caldwell, primary villains in a number of heavy defeats for club and country.  Still, both have played well in crucial games - against France, would be the most relevant.

- My heart says 2-1 to Scotland, but my head says 2-0 to the Czechs.  Czech Republic may have been shit recently, but their team is still hugely superior to ours in every area of the park.  After losing to Lithuania in comical circumstances, they won't take any crap from us and will probably look to score early.

- That said, one of the enduring qualities of recent Scotland teams is our ability to rise or fall to the occasion.  We can look excellent against Holland and stink the place out against Liechtenstein.  With obvious exceptions, we tend to put in better performances against tougher opposition. 

- Still, you never know.  Nobody likes playing against Scotland, except perhaps Norway.  Let's hope we left the four-goal scuddings behind us when Burley got the bullet.

On with the strip it is - come on, the lads.  I was eighteen the last time we qualified for anything and I hope I'm still young enough to eat solid food and walk unaided by the time we do it again.  If we win, I'll publish an update.  If we get gubbed, I'll probably delete the post and pretend none of this ever happened.

Update! Okay, that was horrible.  The plan - defend like hell, pounce on loose balls and fling the ball up to four guys bombing forward - sounded good in theory, but fell down on one crucial flaw... It requires top class attacking play and good ball retention, and you might as well ask Scotland for the moon on a stick as that.  Simply, we're not good enough.

In the end, it was desperate stuff.  The Czechs were still able to find space in our box even with ten Scots in there, and the game instantly devolved into Scotland belting the ball away to the opponents, and them coming right back at us.  Rozicky aside, the Czechs didn't even look like the type of team you'd need to go strikerless for.  A low point, even for such a low era as this.

I made a point of referring to Smith in the post because Smith's teams are so well-drilled that they can pull off all-out defence, while Levein's clearly aren't.  Back to the drawing board, because the Spaniards will eat that team for breakfast if  we try a repeat performance.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Actually, For Real, Mad As A Box Of Frogs

Yuks and japes with Tony Blair this week, as he explains how the West is losing the Battle Of Ideas to a bunch of terrorist headbangers. 

He's right to bitch, of course - after all, just how crap are our Ideas, if we're losing a Battle to those whose Ideas are Everyone gets killed, including us, then some kind of crazy, ultrareligious empire of death and mutilation?

Naturally, the articles are good for War On Terror-related chuckles, as the former PM bemoans "the paucity of our counter-attack in the name of peaceful co-existence".

Now, I'd quibble over "paucity" (How many trillions of dollars so far?) "counter attack" (Where?) and "peaceful coexistence" (Too Orwell for me) but I can see why he went with these.  With the naked bullshit excised, "The of our in the name of" carries less rhetorical punch.

I could go on and on about the multi-layered insanity on display, but let's get down to brass tacks.  Sure, the West is not responsible for the rise of militant Islamist groups, nor will any of them put down their RPGs and take up knitting if we stop bombing them.  Thousands of headbangers will continue to sign up for bloodcurdling terror missions on the promise of some kind of wank-fantasy Valhalla regardless.

And yet... If you're concerned that nutters are winning because they convince their followers that the West is pursuing a war on Islam, then invading and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, while also bombing Pakistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Gaza and the West Bank and threatening more or less everyone else looks like a bit of a schoolboy error.

Far from resembling a poverty-stricken humanitarian outreach programme, it does sort of look like a generalised war on lots and lots of Muslims.  While Tony may believe that saying so is tantamount to joyous bumsex with the enemy, I must insist that the actual violence and death is probably a more effective recruiting tool for psychos.

Plus, there's the small issue over how bad it looks when you once more decry cynicism over Western neutrality in the Israel/Palestine conflict while speaking to yet another major Israel advocacy group.  That looks a bit silly.

Anyway, let's end with the now traditional, pro-forma Blair-bashing as I observe for the thousandth time that the problem with the former PM isn't that he's a liar.  The problem is that he believes his own bullshit, which has made him considerably more dangerous to ourselves and to those he intends to help, not to say infinitely useful to people who don't believe a word of it.

I Hired You Guys To Report News, Not To Jump About Like a Buncha Kansas City Faggots

Not so long ago, I was at a public event with a panel of well-known Scottish sports writers.  It's interesting to hear insiders speaking candidly and they were entertaining and informative, but there was one point that the panel all agreed on that still rankles now.

Asked why some Old Firm managers can't deal with the media - think Paul Le Guen, Wee Gordon Strachan, Tony Mowbray - the journos were unanimous in the belief that such people bring their problems on themselves.  By being cagey and snarky with reporters, the managers invited bad headlines and, come the inevitable downturn in form, effectively hand the journos the weapons of their own destruction.

I didn't get a chance to ask about it, but this struck me as an oddly self-serving view.  I recall that Strachan's demeanour changed rapidly after some initial innocuous comments were blown up into a series of OMG CELTIC BOSS URINATES IN TRUSTING FANS' FACES scandals.  He became increasingly bitter with the hacks, not because he's naturally grumpy, but because he knew full well that they'd be pally and jokey to his face, then knife him on the back page the following morning.

One of the journos explicitly said that managers need to be able to play the game with the press.  Speaking as a fan, I'm not much arsed whether the boss plays tonsil-hockey with the papers, preferring to focus on the team's performance. 

It was clear, however, that it will never occur to the hacks themselves to ask whether inflating non-stories into outrages is a reasonable or honourable activity.  This may well be an unfair judgement, but it seemed like they had never considered the idea that journalists could theoretically restrain themselves from grabbing every opportunity to pour buckets of shit over their subjects.  It was almost as if they were entirely blind to their role in their own business.

Glasgow is a poor example for football journalism, of course, for a number of reasons that I won't list.  Generally, atmosphere around football in the EPL seems a lot healthier, in that players and managers can screw up without being instantly trampled to death in the mad scramble for sales... On the pitch, at least.  Get caught in a brothel and you're toast, whoever you are.

Still, a small insight into a world I don't see much of.  Makes me wonder how far, say, Westminster or foreign correspondents would identify with the mindset.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Man Has Only One Look, For Christ's Sake!

A comment on someone else's blog provides an opportunity for chuckles... 

...There is no choice. Don’t pay your council tax and they won’t let your house burn down... But they will put you in prison.

Here we see a prime specimen of the genus Libertarius Ballbagus Toryensis in his natural environment, bewailing the inherent cruelty of liberal democracy.  If you don't pay your taxes, men with guns will go all Charles Bronson on your oppressed ass!  O, cruel fate, why must you mock etc. and so on and so forth.

This argument is floated aloft so often that I'm amazed it doesn't get shot down, riddled with bulletholes and belching thick black smoke, every single time it appears on the horizon.  Am I the only one who sees this?  I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here! 

I mean, even the crankiest right-wingers accept that there are just some things that the state is better at providing.  If I recall correctly, even Hayek - being a man of reason as opposed to a meths-drinking, compulsive public masturbator - thought some state activity, such as basic medical care, was at least acceptable.

Once you admit that the state should provide some services, you accept that it must levy a mandatory tax on those capable of paying for it.  If that's the case, then the idea that taxation backed by coersion represents some frightful, totalitarian affont to liberty is worse than a bad argument.  It's an argument that rides into the conversation on a unicycle, juggling buckets, wearing a big red nose, an orange wig and kicking itself up the arse with a pair of giant shoes. It's barely fit for the Big Top, let alone the internet, because you can only just hear it over the loud whirring of the comedy spinning bow tie. 

Look, if the state can provide healthcare, is that so very different from, say, gender equality laws that the latter constitutes an entirely different and inherently fascistic category?  Are workplace health and safety regs more totalitarian than police search and seizure powers, if both are legitimately used in the public interest?  

If not, then what the fuck are these people talking about, and how come they can open their mouths without being instantly showered in the hot piss of public derision?

I don't know.  Maybe it's just some wibbling political theorists' gag that internet smartarses with blogs don't get.