Monday, December 29, 2014

The Withdrawal Method

I can't recall whether, back in late 2001, I made any smart-arsed comparisons between the imminent invasion of Afghanistan and the failure of the Soviet Union's occupation of that nation.  It's precisely the kind of dick thing that I would do, so I imagine that I did.

Anyway, I was halfway through writing a line-by-line comparison of the two wars, to mark the purported end of the American occupation of Afghanistan Nato security mission, when I concluded that it'd be quicker and easier simply to list the differences between them rather than the similarities.

The inital stages of both invasions seem to have been quite different, for instance.  The Soviet Union was asked to intervene by an illegitimate government of incompetent local proxies whom it then spent the war propping up, while also repressing resistence by a bunch of poorly-armed militiamen and cave-dwelling terrorists on the thin pretext of ending Afghanistan's civil war.

The US, meanwhile, invaded on the thin pretext of chasing a bunch of poorly-armed militiamen and cave-dwelling terrorists, before installing and propping up a thoroughly legitimate government of incompetent local proxies and making it ask the US to intervene, while also attempting to repress a vicious insurgency. 

Additionally, it's worth noting that the Soviets attempted to impose a half-arsed version of their own communist political system upon Afghanistan, instituting huge economic and social programmes that directly caused many of the Afghan people to rise in open rebellion against the occupation.

The US on the other hand opened up the Afghan economy, assisted in the creation of a half-arsed variation upon Jeffersonian democracy, and helped institute huge economic and social changes that were violently opposed by Afghan murderers and criminals.

The Soviets responded to Afghan resistence with mass incarceration, executions, torture and massive bombing campaigns.  The US responded to terrorist atrocities by arresting thousands of people suspected of involvement in criminal activities and subjecting them to enhanced interrogation, and with surgical airstrikes on suspected extremist strongholds and wedding parties.

Domestically, the Soviets' system of state repression was able to suppress any kind of anti-war opposition of consequence by forbidding a free press and public demonstrations of dissent.  The people of the USSR were only ever told that their government's cause was right and just, and that their enemies were motivated by evil. 

No such oppressive systems were necessary in the free capitalist world, where private and public news sources are permitted to publish such materials as they choose without restraint.  Thus the people of the United States were told that their government's cause was right and just, and the evil motivations of their enemies were detailed by a free press, with the end result that no anti-war opposition of consequence ever emerged. 

In the USSR, military casualties were hushed up.   In the free world, military casualties were given widespread press attention, provided they had owned a cute dog or been married to a hot woman.  The USSR prevented dissent by hiding the war's casualties away in crumbling medical facilities.  The free world put injured soldiers on prime-time television and launched charity drives to help pay for their medical care.

In the end, the USSR ended its needless aggression against Afghanistan after being driven out by people who hated them and everything that they stood for, and were willing to sacrifice scads of their own lives to rid their nation of foreign occupiers.

The US now theoretically withdraws from its vitally important security operation having been prevented from achieving many of its laudible goals by murderers, yet still feeling intense pride at its many achievements.

Like I say, I can't recall whether I ever predicted a repeat of the USSR's Afghan follies but if I ever did, I hereby apologise for my foolishness.


On a side note - I've been playing a bit of the strategy computer game Rome: Total War recently.  Having become Emperor and conquered most of the known world, I sent an army deep into Scythia on a whim - there's nothing worth attacking up there but I did it anyway, for want of anything better to do.  

The Scythians aren't particularly good warriors but my army, far from reinforcement or resupply, was slowly ground down by repeated assaults.  With little hope of achieving anything of note and growing bored with the enterprise, I disbanded the army and turned my computer off. 

I'm not sure why that anecdote sprung to mind in the context of the ISAF occupation of Afghanistan but it did, so here it is.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Rat, December 2014

The RatThe Rat.png
Porn Bill to ban depictions of “squiffing, thrasping, ball-snurgling, facial glopping, George-Michaeling, tit enemas, love-trumpeting, turkey-twizzling, rectal truncheons and cock-fisting”, mortified MP announces

Giant mouse.jpgCat secretly despises giant, insolent mouse

New poll: 100% of Ukip voters find stupid racism “volcanically arousing”

Iraq War fans to hold world’s largest Troops-In rally ahead of third sequel’s release

Unbelievable Disgrace

Outrage was mounting last night as The Rat phoned various permanently-whining bellends and asked them to say that they were very angry indeed.

Opposition politicians were quick to denounce, angrily demanding answers.  “This is absolutely unacceptable”, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said.  “It beggars belief that this kind of thing can happen in the modern age”.  

The Taxpayers’ Alliance echoed her call, calling the situation “Unbelievably disgraceful” and “Despicably horrifying”.

“After my son was murdered twice by a Romanian homosexual, I have been campaigning relentlessly”, Dad-of-four Angus Twitch said.  “This kind of thing just brings further grief to me and my family”.
CIA defends secret anti-terrorist ass-fucking programme

John Brennan, the director of the CIA, has spoken out in defence of the agency’s post-9/11 ass-fucking programme.

Speaking at CIA headquarters, Brennan insisted that the agency “did a lot of things right” and that the seven-year secret sodomisation scheme “provided useful intelligence”.

Conceding that some CIA officers used “abhorrent” ass-pounding techniques, Brennan continued to argue that it was “unknowable” whether the agency needed to aggressively penetrate the anuses of at least 39 detainees between 2002 and 2007.

“Our reviews indicate that the detention and ass-fucking program helped protect the United States, thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives”, Brennan said.

The Rat says:  We congratulate President Obama for his administration’s impressive work in expanding the number of unjailable Americans.

It’s always been the case that policemen could murder US citizens with absolute impunity from prosecution but before Barack Obama entered the White House, it was inconceivable that anyone could engage in torture, or in multi-billion dollar frauds, without facing the most severe criminal sanctions.

Thanks to President Obama, America is now a land where wealthy and powerful people enjoy absolute freedom to kill and steal without fear of prosecution, while poor and unemployed people will continue to be imprisoned in record-breaking numbers for the most minor of offences.

The Rat says to the President:  Well done, sir.  Truly you are a titan of the progressive cause.
Murphy.jpgMurphy elected Supreme Emperor Dalek of Scottish Labour, vows to exterminate poverty

Cameron.jpgCameron to appease back-benches with “Kill a Migrant Week” policy

Clown.jpgRangers unveil new away strip

Adorable MP still thinks public has “sense of decency & fairness” that can be appealed to

Salmond to run his fucking yap about nothing in London for a change

Alex Salmond has announced that he is to stand for election to Westminster, where he will continue to represent the people of Scotland with his own personal brand of meaningless, vacuous drivel.

The former First Minister,  who led the SNP to victory in two Scottish Parliament elections, said he intended to hold the UK Government to account by continuing to refuse to answer any questions that are put to him and by droning on with thousands of hours of gormless and irrelevant patriotic rah-rah.

“At Westminster, I intend to stick up for Scottish causes and to pursue progressive politics with allies on issues like poverty and international matters, by representing the people of Scotland”, Salmond said.

Asked if there were any issues that he intended to press the new government on, Salmond said: “Scotland needs representatives who will press the new government on the issues that are vitally important to the people of Scotland.

“The SNP is now the largest party in Scotland and I will reflect the concerns of my fellow Scots by reminding this government that Scotland will not stand for policies that harm Scots and the interests of the people of Scotland.  

“Scotland Scotland Scotland”, he added, in his inimitable style.   

Miliband to demand investigation of British collusion in torture over Christmas dinner

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that he will aggressively pursue full transparency over the UK Government’s involvement in the American torture scandal by asking his brother David about it on Christmas Day.

“The idea that Britain could have been involved in this horrifying torture programme is disgusting and abhorrent”, Miliband said.  “I intend to hold those people who collaborated in these despicable crimes to account, perhaps while I’m spooning some sprouts onto David’s plate, or just after we get started on the port”.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Countering The Ukip Cri-de-Colon

This ludicrous nonsense - a Labour MP forced to resign after tweeting a photo of a van and a flag - has been in the post for a long, long time.

It's been closing in with every chin-stroking pronouncement that we must all respect the Very Real Concerns of people who just plain don't like foreigners.  It's been coming with every instance of the party responding to attacks from the Mail with apologetic press releases, rather than just telling the paper to fuck right off.

Every unchallenged Question Time assertion that people aren't allowed to talk about the topics that they are themselves talking about on national television at that very moment. Every word from the party's self-appointed detectors of the legitimate feelings of thick-headed bellends. 

All of it has been leading to precisely this point, at which politicians explicitly talking about sending them back are seen as engaging in respectable conjecture, and posting a picture on the internet is a sackable offence.

The current hard-right insurgency, confected storm of slapstick idiocy as it is, poses a genuinely urgent question for the UK.  That question is:

Are we a nation of self-pitying, cowardly, bullying, whining little bigots?

By pandering in the manner that they have this last decade, the Labour Party is answering - Yes. Yes we are.

I can't stress enough how insane and counterproductive this position is.  The political calculus here isn't difficult or controversial.  There's far more at stake than just the next election result, however big a stinker it could be. 

Bluntly, Ukip are going to fail, and fail catastrophically.  It's inevitable - failure is baked into the party's pastry as surely as malevolent eccentricity is.  Maybe Britain will leave the EU and maybe it won't; maybe we'll close the borders and fence ourselves in with barbed wire, Doberman pinschers and machine gun nests, or maybe we won't.

Whatever happens, we're still going to be the imperfect and resentful multicultural society that we are.  There are still going to be lots of people speaking funny languages on the buses and we're still going to be bedevilled by crime and antisocial teenagers.  The UK is not going to sit still and behave, just because e.g. a Kipper-Tory coalition tells it to.

When that realisation dawns on the nation's permanently pissed-off fruitcakes, they're going to demand a new set of even crazier policies and, thanks to the way our political class and our press operates, they'll get it.  And that movement will be much, much worse than this one. 

Ukip is a by-product of Britain's toxic media culture, which is itself an outrage-fed conveyor belt of utterly meaningless, inane wank, existing solely to convert public credulity into cash.  It'll have no trouble assimilating the total failure of this particular uprising and welding together a bandwagon of even nastier nutters whenever the mood takes it.

The people who joyfully consume this churning slurry of celebrity tits and fake victimhood can't be bought off with meaner, more small-minded politics.  Labour's current strategy of appeasing indignant ignorance with nods and smiles won't work, simply because you can't outflank mad xenophobic cranks to the right, ever.  The type of person who finds e.g. Farage appealing isn't going to be swayed by a series of PR men feeding them weak versions of the hardcore substances that they can get elsewhere.  

Here's a basic and inconvenient truth for you - people who like Ukip are telling you, as loud as they can, that they are very impressed by vicious ignorance.  People who are wowed by viciousness aren't ever going to be amenable to Labour's obsequious pandering.  They find it revolting, and rightly so.  There's a reason why Smithers is nobody's favourite Simpsons character.

And even if this tactic did work, it'd still be a terrible idea.  You're not helping people by encouraging them to have confidence in demonstrably wrong and insane beliefs.

You're not respecting them if you're pretending not to find them and their views repellent, when you do.  You show people respect through honesty, not indulgence.  It's vastly more respectful to Ukip voters to call them a shower of deranged fuckwits to their faces, than it is to pretend that they aren't deranged fuckwits. 

Encouraging idiots isn't good for the rest of us either.  Even if pandering to viciousness worked, you'd be actively inflicting the psychoses and neuroses of a minority on the rest of us, regardless of who we vote for.

I'm not a Labour party member and I'm unsure how many times I've ticked the box for them over the years.  I'm not really the joining type, if you catch my drift.

But if the party has any attachment to its founding principles, now is the time to cut out the simpering, bum-licking attitude toward the witless hysteria that's stinking up entire tracts of the country.  It can't work, it's insulting to everyone and it's guaranteed to leave Britain significantly worse off than just telling Ukip voters to stick their Very Real Concerns up their Very Ignorant Arses would.

It is, in short, time to send a message to people who are considering voting for Farage's clown-car full of zoomers, and that message should be - fuck you.

And I know there are plenty of people reading this who will say, but FR, if we do that, then we'll lose the election.  

To which I can only say, if you're not prepared to defend what are supposedly your defining principles for fear of losing just one election, you might as well pack up the whole party and leave politics to the bigots.  It'd be a sad day but by God, it'd be an eye-opener for everyone.   

Sunday, November 02, 2014

"Oor Broken Politics"

The really sad thing here is that Alex Salmond is probably correct - Scotland probably is in for at least a generation of poisonously stupid, hyper-partisan politics.

The Scottish Parliament had a good, long run at doing what it was intended to do - keep the NHS ticking over, empty the bins, scrutinise legislation, keep the law up-to-date and so on and so forth. For more than ten years, MSPs toiled away doing all the dull but necessary work to keep the buses running and suchlike that theoretically, we all want them to do.

It was stupendously boring, of course, because emptying the bins is boring, and it was certainly never perfect or glamorous.  It's difficult to stoke high drama out of yearly audits of NHS trusts etcetera, because it's almost impossible to turn them into ferocious toe-to-toe confrontations with the Satanic forces of opposition bastardry.  It was a small politics of small people, which you would think might befit a small nation. 

But politicians quietly and effectively managing the nation's affairs clearly wasn't enough for us.  Where was the nerve-jangling tension?  Many of us clearly wanted more excitement and engagement. 

Italy has exciting politics.  The United States is filled with people who are very, very engaged indeed.  Very little of value gets done by either nation's ruling class, of course, because there's little time for getting the bins emptied when all parties are so busy sharpening their wedge issues.

And clearly and unambiguously, this is what many of us have long wanted for Scotland, and now we'll have it.  Where once there were tedious committee meetings on civil law reform, we shall now have nonsense declarations in defence of public services that everyone understands are not actually threatened.  Where once there were slow, soporific sessions on the budgetary implications of whatever, we shall now have relentless, boiling accusations of treason and villainy.
It took us around fifteen years to get to this point, and I'd advise you to keep this moment in mind. Years down the line, when we're all whining about our broken political system and complaining about negative, attack-only politics, we may come to realise that this was the moment that we voluntarily and gladly chose to adopt it. 

Ten years from now, let's not have any whingeing about how our politicians filled our national assembly with super-partisan nonsense about nothing.  All they're doing is selling a poor product to the public, and it's us that's buying it.

We're in charge, remember.   If we've decided that what we want is flag-waving, throat-slitting wedge issue stupidity then by God, we are all going to get it, good and hard.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fear Itself

Off the top of my head, I can think of the following recent political meltdowns that basically amounted to David Cameron's government conjuring supposedly frightening problems out of thin air, where once there were none -

- The petrol crisis, after Francis Maude urged citizens to stock up on flammable liquids;

- The national debt, aggressively and terrifyingly marketed as larger than that of Greece, despite the fact that the UK economy is effectively Richard Branson licking champagne off a platinum yacht to Greece's comparative pauperdom;

- The human rights crisis, after the government decided that the issue of prisoners voting was more useful as an expensive political hobbyhorse to be ridden like an old 10p children's ride at a supermarket, than it was as a fairly simple legislative correction; 

- The proposed EU referendum, skooshed onto flaming backbench discontent with all the effectiveness of a quick piss into a blazing bonfire, gaining only the most short-term benefit;

- The EU surcharge, long agreed upon by member states, which the Tories knew full well was coming long in advance and chose to pounce on as an opportunity to show off their throbbing, manly girth, and

- So on.

Of course, the list of actual disasters that the Tories have presided over - whacking a forty-grand pricetag on higher education, the Leveson debacle, Libya, the bedroom tax, to pick just a few - were downplayed somewhat.

I can't think of a government that has invested so much time and effort into fostering raw panic to combat phantom terrors, except perhaps the obvious administration during my childhood. 

Reader, can you think of any other utterly confected disasters to add to this list of recent Tory alarmism, or advise of any other UK governments that spent quite so much time pretending to soil their frillies over things that really, they weren't frightened of in the slightest?

God knows the last Labour government were prone to freak-outs about, oh, tinpot dictatorships with imperial ambitions, but this bunch are beyond comedy.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

It's Fun To Be In The Mujahideen

You never know how things are going to turn out but for now, let's just enjoy the reasonable likelihood that the War Nerd is right, and ISIS just aren't much cop at war.

After all, Kobane is not Stalingrad.  It's a town defended by a lightly-armed, poorly trained militia - a very brave one, but a militia nonetheless...  And the entire planet has just watched supposedly the most terrifying army of psycho-Jihadists around take a vicious beating off a bunch of smiling, thumb-upping girls.  A resounding defeat, from some smiling girls in blokey uniforms and immodestly bare heads, no less!*  Live, on worldwide TV!

The current state of the Battle of Kobane should tell us that far from being a bunch of battle-hardened badasses, at least a sizeable chunk of ISIS is actually not much more than a bunch of boastful, whooping evil idiots - very good at murdering unarmed civilians, and good at walking into towns vacated by people who don't want to fight them, but not very good at all at fighting people who actually shoot back.

And yet, I'm starting to hear mumbles about how really, all this shows that the joint airstrikes are working, and are proof of President Obama's bulging, manly testicles.

This is precisely the wrong message to be sending, so jaw-droppingly self-defeating and insane that it can only be coming from the very people making it.   

ISIS is scared of girls is an incredibly useful propaganda coup.  ISIS got robbed by the infidel's cowardly space-weapons is not useful, at all.  

I've spent an embarrassing amount of time banging the drum for some basic points about the type of person who's attracted to joining up with jihadi armies and so on over the years.  That is, that they're overwhelmingly gullible, credulous, small-minded, deeply prejudiced, wildly irrational, intolerant, no-dick weirdoes.  A sad and hateful bunch of twats and geeks, good for little but woofing nonsense about how tough they are on YouTube, and stopping bullets with their sternums.

In the Middle East, they're very good at maybe three things - killing defenceless people; intimidating and harrassing other defenceless people, and eventually getting splattered over wide areas by high explosives to no useful purpose. 

In the west, our committed terrorists are usually even more ludicrous, most often as thick as shitty jam and literally too stupid to make petrol catch fire.

Facing prison, your western jihadist typically turns from a demon warrior of God into a quivering, tear-streaked lump of boneless goo, hurling himself upon the mercy of the court with a series of weepy and increasingly hilarious excuses.   The sheer pitch-black comedy of this should surely be obvious to all - men who were prepared to blow themselves to smithereens with crude bombs for their cause, now reduced to quivering wrecks by the prospect of a bit of jail time. 

I realise that a long habit is hard to break and God knows, we Brits have spent the last fifteen years bigging up every mountain-dwelling goat botherer and laid-off Iraqi plumber into a bunch of eight-foot tall desert warriors, pissing gallons of raw terror over half of the planet.

Seriously, I understand that this stuff appeals to our leaders' and writers' desire to keep fighting lunatic wars, and of course to their ever-ballooning, vainglorious Churchillian pomposity.  It's plain that the UK authorities believe that inflating a sad bunch of nasty, none-too-bright revanchist throwbacks into a mortal threat to civilisation is useful and necessary. 

I'm just saying that, you know, it isn't.  We should've spent the last decade shouting out the actual truth about a lot of dumb-as-rocks gap-year twats getting rubbed out and killing other people for worse than nothing.  A chance missed, you'd think.

Still, there's always time to start making good.  Altogether now!   

(Fake ISIS propaganda music video; Dancing pyjama-clad men; Cue the disco beats)
Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  Boom!  Boom! 

It's fun to be in the Mujahideen!

It's fun to be in the Mujahideen!

*And no, you shouldn't be thinking Oh, how patronising and sexist at this point. You should be laughing and enjoying this huge, hilarious propaganda triumph over people who really, really deserve it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

You Just Can't Pander Enough

A short reminder here, for people who have allowed the UKIP nonsense to distract them: notice, that the only time that we're ever lectured about how we must all indulge the "concerns" of parts of the electorate, is when chunks of it are all het-up with cretinous right-wing dickishness.

We are not generally urged to put ourselves in the shoes of low-paid people who would like bigger paycheques, nor those of the recently unemployed.

British political parties, papers and columnists do not much pander to the whims of those who think, to pick a few random examples, that higher education should be free, or that the NHS should not be privatised, or that we should desist from fighting quite so many insane wars.

Hell, about half the voting public of Scotland just upped and announced that they wanted out of the United Kingdom entirely, largely because they don't consider the modern British state to be a congenial place to live, work or raise a family, and the resultant attention to those people's "concerns" lasted the sum total of, what, five days?

And yet, a few tear-streaked wallopers announce that they're still very upset about immigration, and the entire country has to suddenly drop everything - yet again! - hunker down, and listen to the Kippers' very urgent democratic demands.  Every media outlet and politician in the land rushes to stroke their tiny, wrinkled gonads and utter soothing platitudes into their hairy little earholes, as if their complaints were forever and tragically unattended rather than constantly stoked and encouraged from the loftiest peaks of power and influence.

Well.  Fuck.  That.

Has it been ten years, or twenty, or fifty that we've all spent being constantly trolled about our compatriots' dislike for the foreigns?  I don't recall, but the topic has been front-page news for almost the entirety of my lifespan, and I'm thirty-six.

Isn't it odd, how certain issues merit near-unending sympathy, and yet others must dangle for all eternity?  Scotland, for example, is a near-tenth of the total population and our almost-secession, plainly sparked by contempt for decades of unstoppable right-wing dickbaggery, has incited bugger-all by way of a response*.

The current UK-wide laser-focus on this bunch of whining, girning dickheads' grievances tells us all manner of things about what is and isn't a respected political issue in Britain; what is and is not considered to be worthy of attention by men and women in positions of power.  Really, it shows us exactly where power lies and who wields it and damn, isn't it an amazing coincidence that the only electoral uprising in the entire country that merits serious attention is far out right-wing dickbaggery?

An amazing coincidence.

Who would've thought it - a supposed insurgency of anti-establishment revolutionaries, who are miraculously indulged and coddled by actually powerful people.  Why, you'd think that that would tell us something, wouldn't you.

And let's remember, after years and years of non-stop boiling, high-profile rage about the issues that this small but vocal section of the total populace considers its most urgent problem, their complaint is still that they're being ignored.  

Ignored.   Well, you have to laugh, because it's plain that you just can't pander enough to some folk.

*I'm not all that concerned that Scotland's obvious displeasure has sparked dick-all response - I think it's resulted in about the appropriate level of concern in the corridors of power.  Naturally, that's less than a few Home Counties bawbags kicking off like wankers in a by-election but again, this teaches us lots of very clear and unambiguous lessons about where power lies in this nation.

Monday, October 06, 2014

We Need To Talk About How This Affects Our Goals

I've been evangelising both the book and film versions of Gone Girl to anyone who will listen for some time now and I'm happy to do so again here for you, idle lunchbreak clicker.

Needless to say, this is going to spoil both versions for anyone yet to encounter them, and probably Fight Club too, so stop here if that bothers you.  


There's a lot of great stuff in both Gillian Flynn's novel and David Fincher's film - much musing on the battlegrounds of marriage and the extent to which we can ever really know the minds of even our nearest and dearest; how real trauma is experienced by the public at large via pre-cut news story templates, and how the participants in these dramas are required to assume hackneyed dramatic roles just to satisfy the public's demands.

It's not difficult to work out why this story left many people cold though, and it defnitely has prompted many vociferous complaints.  Cut the plot back to its bare bones and the tale that the author wanted to tell goes like this -

Boy meets Psychopath  >>>
Boy fails to live up to Psychopath's expectations >>>
Psychopath inflicts terrible punishment upon Boy >>>
Boy comes to realise that he actually loves Psychopath.

Which is basically the plot of 1984, and isn't exactly crowd-pleasing box office.

What raises this above a particularly depressing version of one of those rank Michael Douglas crazy-bitch stories is the expert manipulation of our sympathies.  It's a slow unfolding of horrors, by stages a portrait of a schlubby husband and a perfect wife; a violent asshole husband and an awesome, terrifying genius wife; a deeply-flawed and wronged husband with a psychopath for a spouse, and finally a portrait of a thoroughly awful power couple, each reinforcing and enabling the other's sick impulses and fully deserving of their miserable fate together*. 

It's not hard to see what attracted David Fincher to the book either - turning daft, pulpy potboilers with big ideas at their core into gripping, flashy thrillers is his speciality.  The structure of Fight Club - a similarly wacky and ridiculous story, held together only by the viewer's willingness to suspend their disbelief - has clear parallels with Flynn's bestseller.

Fight Club's needy, emasculated office drone, bent into unnatural shapes by a society that expects him to better himself in ways that he can't or won't achieve, who finds temporary fulfillment in punching and vandalising things.  Amy Elliot-Dunne, with her righteous fury at a faithless, craven husband and her boiling contempt for an American marital politics that she finds so offensively manipulative and banal that she seeks to revenge herself upon it all.

Tyler Durden and Amy Elliot-Dunne seem to be wiser than us.  They perceive systems and injustices that we miss and they have the guts and the brains to kick against them effectively.  They're as mad as hell and they're not going to take it any more and anyone who isn't punching the air at these speeches in both films would be better giving this type of fiction a wide berth.

And yet the cheer dies in our throats when we fully perceive what these people are capable of, in pursuit of their goals - skinheaded terrorism and a return to hunter-gathering for Tyler Durden, viciously murderous vengeance meted out upon those who dare to defy the wants of Amy Elliot-Dunne.

Both are stories about apparently admirable yet deeply horrying individuals.  We're invited to cheer them on, and then whiplashed by the full expression of their inhumanity.  It's shocking and brutal, as a good thriller should be. 

Much of the criticism of Gone Girl I've seen has focused on what are ultimately fripperies and diversions.  To pick just one - how are we to reconcile the supposedly deep universal analysis of relationships, with a self-harming, neck-slashing psycho Amy? 

Well, we can't - the analysis just isn't that deep, and it isn't even the point.  The famous Cool Girl rant about the manipulation of women's behaviour by men for their own ends, as perceptive as it is, is as much an act as the earlier Diary version of helpless, loyal Amy is.

We're being played again, encouraged to cheer Amy on in her vengeance, but it's not the injustice of modern gender relations that's driving her to acts of operatic villainy.  The lies and hypocrisy sure do piss her off, but the more time that we spend with her, the more we realise that it's the mere fact of another person's defiance of her desires that's driving her rage.

The same is true of Fight Club.  We're not being invited to cheer when Project Mayhem destroys those buildings.  We're supposed to think, Oh, shit.  Maybe Tyler Durden has a good point or two but ultimately he is, you know, the psychotic invention of a diseased mind, rather than the  cheerfully violent lifestyle guru we had earlier been led to admire.

In much the same way, we're compelled to respect Amy Elliot-Dunne's sheer invention and willpower.  She really is the Amazing Amy that the press are selling to the public.  It's just that she's not amazing in quite the way that we'd all been led to believe, much to our surprise and revulsion.

There are still plenty of people who'd say, well, so what?  For all that, it's still just nonsense - exploitative and deeply silly nonsense, at that.  And it is, as any really good pulpy thriller should be.

I'll go further than that and say that Gone Girl is the Mona Lisa of silly, exploitative nonsense.  The whole thriller genre is very silly indeed, or at least it is if it's any good, and that goes right back to Marlowe's flirtations with innumerable femmes fatales and his repeated druggings and coshings by fast-talking women and unseen thugs. 

The heart of a good thriller is mystery and shock value, tension and release.  As Chandler used to describe his method for overcoming writer's block, a man with a gun walks in...  Or a blood-soaked psychopath throws herself at her hate-filled husband in front of America's press, to the nation's delight.

Like it or not, you have to admire the panache.

Update!  A bit of a backlash forming about this film now - is Amy a Fatal Attraction-style monster from woman-hating central casting, or an icon of evil feminism for scorned women everywhere?

And the cop-out answer is, perhaps a bit of both.  We're certainly pushed towards the avatar-of-all-women's-vengeance interpretation in the big reveal, but Amy is at heart a pure psychopath from thriller nightmares and likely a raging narcissist into the bargain, willing to do anything to get what she wants. 

And, good!  Good melodrama needs interesting villains.   The slow reveal of these deeper motivations are what makes the drama compelling. 

I could go in-depth into Amy's apparent willingness to tolerate her husband's failure to maintain his perfect spouse facade and how the revelation of his unfaithfulness sparks her revenge mission, but the point worth focusing on is the one that she makes (in the film, anyway) at the end of the Cool Girl speech:

You do not get to win. 

The book goes deeper into Amy's view of her personal relationships as battles to the end, with a parade of framed former lovers and fitted-up ex-friends who dared to slight her, but the defining characteristic of her relationships with everyone else in the story is that sooner or later, she has nothing but contempt for all of them. 

She doesn't love her family or her friends - in fact, she seems to hate them all.  She seems to love Nick but as is made crystal clear, it's the pretense of perfection that Nick puts on for her that she falls in love with. 

That is, she loves Nick only when she can see her own reflection in him, making him raise his game to match her...  And unexpectedly, she comes to realise that she can force him to see their marriage the way that she does.  Because she's a narcissistic psychopath.

Narcissistic psychopaths, I assume, are not big on striking blows for people everywhere who just happen to share their gender, unless perhaps to bask in their adulation. 

This isn't a hidden theme or anything I'm talking about - Amy says this right out at the end of the film: Basically, she doesn't need Nick to love her or to care for her.  She only ever needed him to put on a convincing show of loving her to make her happy and, as she spells out graphically to her ever-dense husband, the act of putting on that show will make him love himself, and attain a kind of sick happiness too.

Does he agree with her in the film?  Well, he does in the book - they end entwined narcissists, utterly contemptuous of each other but each bitterly happy in their own way, stuck in the bespoke Hell that they have made for each other. 

Which isn't exactly And they lived happily ever after but damn, that's a cracking twist ending that nobody saw coming, I reckon.

*This - Nick coming to love Amy and accept that she's the only woman he could ever be with - is downplayed in the film version.  I suspect that this is because of strong negative reader reactions to this ending in the book.  Certainly, there was much talk of re-writing the third act, and it looks to me like writer and director decided to go with a less full-on version, to satisfy the book's fans and lessen the alienation for everyone else.  

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Political Map of (Most of) the British Isles

As a follow-up to my recent Political Map of Scotland, may I present my Map of (Most of) the British Isles.

Right-click and Open in new window to Enlarge.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

More Post-Referendum Blah

- First and foremost, you'd have to say that it was probably the opinion poll two weeks ago showing Yes ahead for the first time that screwed their chances of victory.  That early warning forced pretty much everyone in the country who didn't agree with Eck et al to come out to the polls, and it was that high turnout that swung it decisively for the No campaign.

That's a particular irony, given the Yessers' focus on the wonders of democraticity and so on, since it was a massive democratic stampede against independence that did them in.

That massive turnout is a back-handed compliment to the Yes campaign, but should also be a bit of a downer.  The Better Together campaign was shockingly poor - in two years, I can't remember seeing a single BT leafleter, stall or door-knocker, despite living and working in the nation's capital city - and their messaging skills were diabolical.

Frankly, I suspect that the unionists could've laid off campaigning altogether and still carried the day... And yet, they still won decisively.  

- I'm not really a big fan of the OMG the massive turnout shows how wonderfully re-energised our democracy really is analysis.  55% of an 85%+ turnout voting against the proposition tells me that the majority of voters came out to say "This is a very daft idea, please stop it".

It'd presumably be easy to replicate this turnout if we had another referendum next week on Do you agree that Scotland should be a theocracy? or Should we rename the country "Bawbagistan".

On "the debate" itself, well, look - a few million people parrotting the party-approved talking points of the UK's political behemoths, or reciting the contents of the day's papers, got really old very quickly. 

- The aftermath of the referendum is now chucking up some fairly revealing stuff, as an old and familiar political refrain sets in for the defeated side - the Party can never fail, and can only ever be failed by the electorate, the bastards.

If you check social media and forums, you can see that the Yes camp's footsoldiers have a thousand theories about why they lost, and almost every one of them is a variation on We Wuz Robbed. 

I'm yet to see even one person flirting with the idea that they lost because millions of Scots found their arguments unconvincing.  Eck himself came close, but then rowed it back with a lot of grousing about those sneaky Westminsterers.

The message I take from the result is that most of us trust Holyrood to empty the bins, but not to run the entire show;  that most of the country doesn't believe we can magic a Scandi-style social democracy out of thin air through a single vote; that most of us don't buy the idea that there's something fundamentally different about a person who lives in North Berwick and another raised in Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

That, to put it mildly, is not how others see it.

- An example.  Irvine Welsh is saying obliquely here what others are stating far more bluntly - namely, that the Yes campaign was a grassroots democratic uprising thwarted by the craven timidity of the people...
"The no voters should take a bow: they delivered the UK establishment a reprieve the enervated, confused and weak campaign of their masters certainly didn't deserve. They have bought time for the union, and many of them, people who will habitually support the status quo at almost any cost, will simply be relieved..."
"At the start of the campaign, a narrow win for the political-class-led no would have been a nightmare result for the establishment..."
Now, sharp-eyed observers will note that the referendum wasn't hacked out of the clay by the common man through sheer grit, but was itself legislation passed in the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish Government; that this campaign was led by the SNP, a political party filled with politicians, that has been in power since 2007.  Had the Yes vote won, it wouldn't have been Elaine C. Smith negotiating the split with David Cameron, yo.

It's unclear to me how the Nats have managed to rule the nation for seven years without themselves becoming members of the political class but they appear to have managed it, as far as Irvine is concerned.

Irvine's rattle about "people who habitually support the status quo" on behalf of "their masters" is a much more polite version of what many of the rank-and-file Yessers are now saying themselves, which is basically that they lost because two million of their countrymen are spinelesss, servile, cowardly traitors*.

This is a pretty bizarre message for people who have spent much of the last year up on their high horses about their foes "talking down Scotland", but it's what lurks at the bottom of the pool that nationalists of all stripes swim in. 

- Which is pretty much why I had little to say about the IndyRef until it was almost upon us.  For all the chat about how wonderfully positive the debate was, it looked rather different to me.  This was probably the biggest political decision of my lifetime, and I went out of my way to avoid getting dragged into it for the last two years.

There's a reason for this. Most of the unionist types I've spoken to regarded the Yes voters with more or less open contempt as a bunch of mouth-breathing fools vapidly repeating a lot of Braveheart drivel, while the majority of pro-independence folk plainly saw their foes as a shower of brain-washed, institutionalised pro-Tory cretins.

You'd think it'd be impossible for these people to civilly discuss the matter, and you'd be right - it pretty much was.  It didn't bring out the best in people and quickly devolved into a hectoring, flag-waving squabble based on emotion rather than reason.

I watched people I've known for years who have taken little or no interest in politics generally go from indifference to sudden fits of blazing rage about e.g. nuclear weapons in Scotland, with nothing but derision and denunciation for any disagreement. 

A debate that energises people towards boiling fucking rage and contempt isn't my idea of a good time, and it hasn't been a very positive experience in my book.  Maybe other people had a ball but for me, it was all pretty unpleasant.  I found our grand national debate shouty, aggressive and belligerently arsey from start to finish, and I'm glad that it's all over.

- Except, of course, it isn't over.  Nationalism generally - British, Scottish, Paraguayan - is largely the collection and stoking of angry grievance, and the manner of this particular defeat is only going to make the Scottish nats even angrier.  The thought of a rerun in a decade or two is both depressing and depressingly inevitable, and I expect the next attempt to be even less enjoyable.

*I could show you countless examples, but my favourite one so far is this football forum, featuring die-hard fans saying that they now can't stomach to attend the national team's games, because they've been ruined by the disgusting behaviour of their fellow Scots.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

IndyRef 2014 Live Blog

06.30 - Final Result 

No wins by a large majority.

Update, 14.00 Friday - As noted in comments, when I say "large majority", I mean "large majority by comparison with the narrow squeaker that we all expected".

In all, a pretty brutal and disappointing night for the Yessers.  On the other hand, they should be pretty proud - they fought by far the better campaign, even if it was exceptionally bullshitty, and it took near enough the entire country coming out to vote to thwart them.  I'd say "hats off", if anyone still wore hats.

04.00 - Result 

Actually, fuck this.  Follow me on Twitter.

03.55 - Result 

Renfrewshire goes No on 87% turnout. 

03.35 - Result 

Inverclyde goes Naw by 0.2%.  A massive and devastating rejection for Alex Salmond personally, the Saltire and the very notion of Scotland itself, which will now surely crumble into nothing leaving only the North Sea above Carlisle.

03.00 - Result 

Eilean Siar announce their result in their heathen lingo, baffling all.

02.45 - Result 

Shetland goes strongly Naw as well, reflecting their skittish, uncertain nature when they aren't blinkered.  They look cute, but they can give you a nasty kick. 

02.05 - Idle speculation 

Glasgow and Dundee yet to report, so it could still turn out radically different.

Better Together HQ on TV celebrating like they've just beaten Liechtenstein 2-1 in the 97th minute, which both shows sheer brass balls and is entirely apt.

02.05 - Result 

Orkney goes strongly No to appease the Old Gods, to ensure that the harvest is bounteous and the maidens' wombs are fruitful.

Quote - Lord Summerisle: [singing] Summer is icumen in, loudly sing cuckoo. Grows the seed and blows the mead, and springs the wood anew. Sing, cuckoo! Ewe bleats harshly after lamb, cows after calves make moo.

02.00 - Godawful pundits 

Polly Toynbee and Danny Finkelstein explain to Andrew Neil exactly how much of a bunch of horrible bastards the Tories intend to be about Scotland doing exactly what the Tories wanted us to do.

The pundits think "Very reasonable" but I have to say that I think the Tories are going to go full Mad Max 2 on us for the crime of giving them a bit of a fright.

No doubt this will be a big thing with the Nats tomorrow as a thwarted and raging Alex Salmond makes a lot of noise about how the UK Government will punish Scotland for having the temerity to question them but, you know, the answer to that is - thanks to you, you twat.

Note here, in case there's a shock - I'm currently assuming it's going No. It may not.

01.40 - Trends 

It's all looking very No now, but I'm sticking with it.  Yes or No, I want to see tears.

01.30 - First result! 

Clackmannanshire, Scotland's smallest and diddiest electorate, votes Naw.

To be fair, we can't discount the possibility that that they thought they were being asked whether they wanted to ban tractors from the high street.

Of course, it'll be hilarious if it turns out that this election was never close, and the UK Government have been trolled into offering Devo Max for nothing.

I'm not in favour of Devo Max myself, though.  I've met MSPs and I'd rather hand executive powers to the fucking Wombles.

01.25 - Electoral count

Fire alarm going off in Dundee at count.  Well, you can only keep them off the crackpipe for so long.

01.15 - Nothing happening

Hardcore pornography break.  Back in 20 mins.

12.45 - Sensational news! 

Allegations of electoral fraud in Glasgow, reports the Herald.

Translation for non-Scots:  "Allegations of electoral fraud" is Old Scots for "The SNP think they've lost the referendum".

Update!  Apparently, a clear case of Sky News being even bigger fannies than usual.  Apologies for the joke about it, SNP types.

12.05 - Geography 

Time-filling now with debate about how the UK will look if the vote goes yes.  I've got contacts inside the Yes Scotland campaign and can reveal the draft outline, below:


12.00 - Anthem 

While the BBC run through a million variations on "We don't have a clue what's going on", allow me to suggest a viable national anthem alternative, upon which we can all agree, to the boring, joyless, tuneless, blarting drone of Flower of Scotland.  


11.45 - BBC Coverage 

Dirty tricks by the BBC as they invite John Redwood on to troll the No voters.  I'm already self-harming out of raw guilt.

Update - 11.46  What have I done?  Why, God, why?

11.35 - Polls 

Initial polls suggesting No 54% Yes 46% on a turnout of circa 80%, which is a backhanded compliment to the Yes campaign, I'd say - the Yes vote was so huge that practically every softly-No voter in the country has had to turn out to thwart it.

Not much comfort to the Yes camp if it goes that way I suppose, but then there's a long, long way to go. 

11.15 - Claims of misbehaviour 

YouGov reporting that 10% of No voters encountered "unreasonable behaviour" by Yes campaigners, and 5% vice-versa.

This is unsurprising and I'm glad to see that it's not higher.  Basically, large crowds of loud, flag-waving people are intimidating, even if they're all happy and friendly, and I doubt whether the big rallies were 100% happy and friendly.

As I said previously, there are occasions when big crowds of my countrymen waving flags are very welcome, and these occasions are called "football matches".  Political events, not so much.

11:00 - Social media 

Which hashtags were people using in the referendum? Bear in mind that many of these were tagged pretty neutrally by a lot of Twitter users:

1. #IndyRef 3.75m
2. #VoteYes 1.1m
3. #MeaninglessPlatitudes 439,000
4. #BelligerentRepetitionOfPartySanctionedPoliticalTalkingPoints 272,000
5. #BetterTogether 224,000
6. #PhotosOfCatsWearingFlags 222,000
7. #InsaneConspiracyTheoriesAboutReptileTories 190,000
8. #IncoherentCursing 188,000
9. #RubbishPhoneticScots 174,000
10. #SponsoredTweets 162,000

10:50 - A serious interlude 

As I said here, I voted no and hope it goes that way.

However!  I've no stronger attachment to the UK's nationalism than to the Scottish version and I'll survive in either country, so I'd say that -

- The best possible result is a decisive win for one side or the other, between 5-10% minimum.  There'll be a lot of grousing, but a clear and unambiguous result will let us get on with either setting up a new country or getting back to work on the one that we have.

- The worst possible result is a 50%+1 victory for either side.  A new independent Scotland with a tiny margin of victory isn't much of a mandate, nor is the same for the status quo.  The conspiracy theories will be rife and the resentment neverending.

So, let's hope for a clear result, whichever way it goes.

10:40 - Political Map of Scotland 

Foreigners baffled by the geography should see here, for a political map of the country explaining in-depth who and what is where. 

10:35 - Timings 

News coming in that if there's no clear result by 2am, we get to start phone-voting countries off the island.

10:30 - Demographics 

Who's voting Yes and No?  See below for my calculations on the matter, from yesterday.

10:20 - Opinion polls 

The pre-referendum polls have been solidly going around 48% Yes 52% No all week.

I'm hearing that in the event of a Yes win, the UK armed forces are expected to conduct airstrikes on YouGov headquarters and ICM pollsters have vowed to chuck themselves off bridges with live grenades duct-taped to their foreheads.

10:05 - Flag check 

A lot of concern about what the respective flags of the UK's constituent nations will look like post independence.  For the avoidance of doubt, see below...

The Saltire - the official flag of the Scottish National Party

Golf sale.jpg
National Flag of Scotland

rUK Flag.jpg

National Flag of the rUK

I actually think they're missing a trick with the rUK flag and should instead go for a new flag, with a picture of the old flag on it, but on fire.

You can have that one for free, Westminster heraldic experts.

10:00 pm - Evening All

Alright then, let's be getting this live blog on the road.  The beers are in the fridge, the coffee is in the pot and I've set my bile-gland to meltdown.  From now until - hopefully - the result of tonight's independence referendum, I'm going to be right here babbling on about the results as they come in.

Commentary will take the form of sarcastic jibes about politicians' appearances; bizarre and irrelevant digressions and increasingly incoherent, belligerent denunciations and cursing as the night progresses.

Indyref Political Map of Scotland 2014

To assist with tonight's independence referendum, see below for a political map of Scotland - Right-click and Open in new window to Enlarge.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The RatThe Rat.png
Referendum Special 2014
Film star Mel Gibson “salutes Scotland’s Braveheart stand” against English, Jews, Blacks, Critics, Mel Gibson’s ex-wife

What’s All This Independence Malarkey?
The IndyRef in Graphics 



Sponsored links - Unionist Live Chat 4U

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fuck It

Okay, fuck it - I'll go for No, although I'm expecting a Yes victory, and by a larger margin than many people are expecting.

I'm man enough to admit that I have no idea which choice presents the nation with the brighter future.  Neither does anyone else of course, despite what they might say to the contrary - not Alistair Darling or the First Minister, nor any member of either campaign.  Hell, Krugman has been full of warnings but even he doesn't really have a clue, and they gave that guy the Nobel Baubel for Economicry.

Being the type of person that I am, the patriotic emotional appeals of both sides leave me cold.  This week's anguished laments for the possible passing of Great Britain and the Union Flag rank below the death of my hamster in 2005, in terms of pure personal trauma.

Meanwhile, even the grandest soliloquies of our gaudy Saltire-waving Yessers pack all the visceral punch of a Pepsi commercial because, you know, they are the same thing.

Yes Scotland - The choice of a new generation.  Enjoy Better Together with friends.

As best I can tell, these competing nationalisms don't describe actually existing or even possible countries.  They're advertising slogans, focus-grouped to fuckery to appeal to the voters on a base, instinctive level because nationalisms, both British and Scottish, are mainly appealing to people who can rank "Having been born in a particular country" among their greatest personal achievements.

So whether dependent or not, I imagine that Scotland will probably get along just fine.  A little richer or poorer for either option perhaps, maybe even dramatically so, and that'll be a bummer for everyone on the receiving end*, but somehow I suspect we'll avoid mass starvation.

Reject the grand national visions as basically bogus then, and you're left with the campaigns themselves...  And let me tell you, neither is a pretty sight. 

The No campaign's message has been pretty simple: Good old Britain, eh?  It's not that bad and we're a big bunch of mates in the end.  Shame if something happened to an independent Scotland though, you know, one carelessly-dropped match, and whoomf!  It's been a tawdry and demeaning campaign for the Union, by turns patronising and histrionic.

For all that Better Together have catastrophically fucked up this simple yet dull message though, it's still a pretty reasonable and straightforward point that they're making.  God knows I love to kick off about the shallow cruelty of the status quo but by and large, you can leave money in the bank and be reasonably sure that the Generalissimo won't have spent it on cocaine and hookers by lunchtime.

The bins mostly get emptied; the hospitals are open and admitting patients; the roads aren't deathtraps and your kids can generally walk to and from school without fear that they'll be cut in half by a hail of machine-gun fire.

All of which inspires me not, and others even less, but I can live with it.  Since I recognise that it's basically a bit shit though, I'm still wide open to bright ideas and will be overjoyed to poke through the blueprints of any radical overhauls proposed.

Up against the solid example of an actually-operating system, Yes Scotland have deployed a wondrous vision of an optimistic, creative, self-confident nation that can do whatever the fuck it likes without having to face any serious consequences at all.

If you've paid attention, you'll notice that we're being offered a caringly socialist business-friendly independent country of huge financial innovation that exploits its petro-chemical wealth to the full to create an environmentally-responsible future, while retaining all that's best about Britain.

Or, more succinctly, the product we're being offered is a pack of sky-fairy fluff, containing as few actual promises as possible, in order to to guarantee its appeal to the broadest section of the populace. This impressive act of imagineering has gone down so well with half the electorate that the First Minister felt he could drop insane shit on the populace such as, oh, threatening to default on the national debt.

Trying to get an answer on how any of this will work in reality is like donning boxing gloves and trying to pin a question mark on a hot-buttered balloon full of birdshit - slippery work, not really worth the hassle and even success can only mean that you wind up needing a change of clothes.

And this is just the headlines - there are countless other major problems with the Yes campaign, not least:

- The endless goddamn flag-waving.  There are occasions when a horde of my flag-flapping countrymen are a welcome sight, and these occasions are called football games.  

On other occasions, they're less desirable.  Occasions such as, say, large crowds of self-proclaimed patriots repeatedly gathering outside news organisations to angrily demand that journalists alter their output to something more congenial. 

- The non-stop arsing on about the wonders of democracy.  I'm not keen on taking lessons on the joys of civic responsibility from people who are so committed to the ideal of democracy that they feel they need to carve a wholly new polity out of the rump of an old one, in the hope that this will help their particular viewpoint to win the day, and I say that even though I'm in tune with much of what the Yes camp has to say. 

- The trolling about the Tories.  The Yessers' constant resort to David Cameron et al as a weapon against doubters every time they're on the back foot doesn't encourage much confidence in this supposedly new politics, in my view. 

The Labour Party have spent years demanding my vote on the grounds that otherwise, the Tories will vandalise the place.  This is called Blackmail and I was never much receptive to it from men and women in red rosettes.

In fact, I really didn't like this game when it was called Support our cause or you are helping Saddam Hussein to victory and I like it even less when it's my own arse on the line.
I may be repeating a lot of the same stuff that I've said in the past here, but I've learned the odd lesson or two over the years, and they're helpful now.

I'm going to vote no for the same reasons why I don't take e.g. the libertarians seriously - because I don't trust people who publicly proclaim that one thing and one thing only is the magical cure for almost everything that ails the nation.  There's something a little creepy about movements that can be succinctly summarised with only one word and one flag.

I'm voting no because repeated experience has taught me that people who propose theoretically simple schemes for the enrichment of the people, but then get ridiculously aggressive when you ask straightforward questions, are probably attempting to pull the wool over our eyes about something or other.

I'm voting No for the same reason I was against bombing the shit out of Iraq and Libya - because people who urge us to support massive moral masterworks but categorically refuse to clue anyone in on the detail, on the assumption that everything will work out wonderfully in the end because God is on their side, shouldn't be trusted to fundamentally re-order a supermarket, let alone a nation.

And that's why mostly, I'm voting no because I believe that the major players in the Yes campaign couldn't give a damn whether independence will take the nation to the mountaintop or drag it through the valleys.  

I think the Yessers believe that we'll be a better nation independent, but them merely believing it doesn't make it so, and I think that if it all ends in tears, few if any of these people are going to point the finger at themselves. 

*Very few of the high-profile campaigners will be on the receiving end.