Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Not Dead Yet 2

Six months or so since I was last here, so hello to empty space.

I had very nearly forgotten the existence of the Curmudgeon. I clicked on a link at the bottom of my bloglines page that hadn't been updated for a while and there it was. And then I read a few of the old posts and thought, hey, this is not half... shit, truth be told. But when has a small matter of quality ever stopped a blogger from hitting the publish button? So here goes.

Six months or so and some things have changed and some things have stayed the same. The Kid, bless him, is still talking bollocks and missing the point, as ever. (Mate, she spent the column inches defending the top ten positions you highlighted. That's the top ten wastes of tax payers' money you identified. You know, the ones you think were the biggest waste in a report of public sector non jobs.) Harry's Place still talks bollocks too, although there's a tad fewer objectively pro fascist apologist for terror accusations thrown about. Well there would be and it's only because there aren't that many Stoppers, (to use Harry's parlance) frequenting the place these days that they aren't constantly defending themselves from an equally inane counter insult - I can't think of a snappy one off the top of my head, but something along the lines of objectively pro country destroying apologist for civil war would do it. The other day one contributor shoved himself through the intellectual wringer by claiming that his support for the war was justified on the grounds that the ensuing mess is a different war.

But of course, things are profoundly different to what they were six months ago and such bloggerly considerations, admittedly never particularly important, now shrivel into absolute insignificance. The world has shifted on its axis. An international incident has occurred and the reverberations threaten to destabilise the fragile edifice upon which our civilization depends. I refer, as if you need to be told, to the Jade Goody affair.

Well, what do you say? Thousands of complaints, questions in the house, burning effigies and Gordon Brown trying to convince a whole country that we are not a race of vile, hate filled, bullying morons full of prejudice against people based solely on the accident of birth. That the country in question is the one that brought us the Gujerat riots, the Ayodha riots and the charming concept of Untouchability need not detain us for long, because calling someone "fuckawallah" is, after all, the absolute worse thing in the world you can do.

Actually, we should take heart, as the whole sorry saga is neat illustration of the fact that what divides us is far less important than what unites us. It's just that what divides us is the language we speak or the way we speak it, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the gods we do or do not worship, the colour of our skin, our class, our culture, our income and our intelligence while what unites us is our hypocrisy, our gang mentality, our unthinking prejudices and the inability to see them while condemning others in the foulest, meanest ways possible.

Thus we have Jade and co bullying Shilpa Shetty, a Hindu, in a nasty, racist way. Of course, this is unlikely to be Shilpa's first experience of prejudice towards someone based on that accident of birth thing. She will have some knowledge of the 160 million Dalits, or Untouchables in India, and may well have witnessed prejudice first hand. Although officially illegal and supposedly rare in the major cities, discrimination against the Dalits continues. In the Indian province of Rajasthan alone for instance, between the years 1999 and 2002, crimes against Untouchables average at about 5024 a year, with 46 killings and 138 cases of rape. Luckily for Shilpa, as a member of the forward (as against backward or scheduled) Bunt caste, this is one form of hate crime she will probably not have to endure.

But this is to digress a bit. The interesting thing about it all was the reaction, as all over the net and in the media a veritable hate fest was unleashed. Goody was subject to vicious abuse about her looks, her background, her chaviness, her intelligence, her accent, her weight and the fact that she was, er, viciously abusive and racist. She was called everything from a pig to a dog, including a pig and a dog.

And just as Goody and gang's protestations that they weren't racists betrayed their inability to see themselves as they really were, so those who heaped invective on them betrayed their own prejudices and purblindness. Misogyny and hatred of white trash, (to use Saint Jermaine Jackson's lovely phraseology) were foremost, but wherever the train of conversation turned, other prejudices were revealed. British Asians insulted each other, dividing on national and religious lines, one Malaysian Chinese on Comment is Free introduced us to the term Tamilshit, Germaine Greer seemed to insinuate that it was unacceptable to hate Shilpa Shetty on the grounds of her race, but not her class. Everywhere you looked, viciousness was matched only by monumental complacency and hypocrisy.

The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, said, with a straight face, "Racism has no place in civilised society. The world knows that India has throughout firmly rejected all forms of discrimination and racism." The Sun saw fit to lecture its readers on the evils of racism, Darling Davina sternly grilled the offenders on their behaviour, apparently forgetting her earlier description of Jackiey Goody - who was at least as guilty as the rest - as an awesome housemate.

I was going to go on some more, about prejudice in general, out groups and such, but I've run out of steam. You get the drift. In short, the whole world's gone mad.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Cows and Stuff

Well, I thought I might check in and wax interminable about CIF and Harry and Euston (again)and that sort of stuff, but Matt had a post about cows which took me back a few years.

I spent a few months in Banaras, which is the best place in the world to be if you're a cow, but even so they get knocked about a bit by the rickshaws and taxis and whatnot. Indian veneration for the bovine is a passive thing. They won't hurt the critters, but they don't go out of their way to help them either.

The dogs do, though.

Mad but true. Under our balcony an old white, humpy heiffer thing used to kip down and most nights before I turned in I would look down on her to see how she was getting on. She'd sit in the same place on the dusty street, chewing the cud gleaned from the rotten vegetables, banana leaves and bidi ends that made up her diet, staring placidly at the shadows.

One night I went out on the balcony to see her assailed by a pack of pi dogs. Five of the buggers were crowded eagerly around her and although she didn't seem unduly bothered I was worried for her. I shouted down and chucked shoes and whatever I could find to drive the filthy canines away.

Eventually they slunk off and I went down to retrieve my footwear. Close to, I could see she had a nasty gash on her haunch where some vehicle had rammed into her. The wound was red and fresh and shiny. I slapped her haunch and bade her goodnight, convinced I'd done the old girl a good turn in driving her tormentors away.

Next night they were there again and again our girl was just sitting there,happy as Larry. So, before launching another shoe frenzy, I observed proceedings. The dogs were jostling to LICK the wound on the cow's haunch. I left them them to it.

It was much later that I read that dogs' saliva is a sort of natural antiseptic, which is why they are always licking them selves, I suppose, and I suppose there was some sort of symbiotic, mutually beneficial thing going on in that dusty Indian night.

Monday, April 17, 2006


The unveiling of the Guardian Blog Comment is Free and the opening up of their opinion and leader pieces to comments has led to an interesting, if predictable phenomenon.

If your RSS reader features, as mine does, a fair smattering (all right, an exclusivity) of political blogs, you might be forgiven for thinking there is a veritable army out there of highly articulate, well informed commenters and bloggers who can demolish in a pithy sentence the whole Guardian world view. All of them lament the sad decline of said organ and terrabytes of bandwidth are swallowed up every day in deconstructing and exposing for the drivel it is the latest Maddy of the Sorrows, Polly, Naomi, Moonbat or whoever.

So, you would have thought, wouldn't you, you would have thought that this vast intellectual juggernaut would have bulldozed the pages of the Guardian's venture within days of its inauguration?

Funnily enough, it hasn't quite happened that way. Faced with the opportunity of taking the fight to the enemy, the Keyboard Commandos prefer to stay in their own havens to do their fighting. They drop their virtual Shock and Awe in the same way as they have always done, in safety, among friends.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sorry, But it's The Euston Manifesto

We're going to look back on this momentous week in awe, I tell you. Twenty brave souls in a London pub working to change history. Ignoring such distractions as nascent civil war in Iraq, the war of words and sabre rattling over Iran's nuclear ambitions, the American Generals lining up to denounce the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and allegations that American and UK allies in the form of Shia militias are causing as much death and destruction as the Sunni insurgents; ignoring all this, the Euston Twenty have their attention on far weightier matters.

We are talking, naturally, of the soon to be legendary Manifesto, which will, without a shadow of doubt come to replace in terms of historical significence the seminal 1989 document The Paddington Manifesto For Change(Marxist-Leninist-but-definitely-not-Trotskyist-ho-no) which even now informs almost all contemporary comment on the Left despite being the work of three drunk students working on the London School of Economics Rag Mag.

This is not to undermine the critical importance of the Euston document, however. In its admittedly less than exciting style, it manages to reach the crux of the critical
global political and humanitarian issue of today. I refer, of course, specifically to section 14 of the Statment of Principles:

14) Open source. As part of the free exchange of ideas and in the interests of encouraging joint intellectual endeavour, we support the open development of software and other creative works and oppose the patenting of genes, algorithms and facts of nature. We oppose the retrospective extension of intellectual property laws in the financial interests of corporate copyright holders. The open source model is collective and competitive, collaborative and meritocratic. It is not a theoretical ideal, but a tested reality that has created common goods whose power and robustness have been proved over decades. Indeed, the best collegiate ideals of the scientific research community that gave rise to open source collaboration have served human progress for centuries.

Amen to that, eh, my geeky friends? And don't worry your nerdy little heads over all the other complicated stuff. Just sign on the dotted screen.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

You Couldn't Make it Up

I can't say I've done an exhaustive round-up by any means, but I haven't so far seen any comment about the suicide bomber bloke.

Don't get me wrong - I'm as confused and agnostic on this one as I am on most things these days. What with the fucking nob ends setting fire to embassies on the one hand and the fucking nob ends demanding that the BBC show the cartoons on the other, the only place to be is in the wimpy liberal middle ground pleading in vain for calm.

Having said that, it's got to be time for a wry smile when a potent symbol of outraged Muslim sensiblities, a devout young man so outraged by the slur on his religion that he felt compelled to take to the streets of London dressed as a suicide bomber all the better to express his devotion to the Prophet, peace be upon him, turned out to be a convicted crack cocaine dealer on parole.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

That About Wraps it up for ... Everyone Else

How do people - and I'm talking bloggers, of course, not real people - have such a sense of stone wall certainty? You can't browse a blog or scan the comments these days without an image of the poster springing unbidden into your mind. He (it's usually a he) is leaning back in his chair surveying the words on the screen before hitting the publish buttton. His chest is visibly widening in pride as he reads through his purple prose, and you know, you just fucking know, that no matter what anybody else might say on the subject, no matter how many compelling countervailing arguments are out there, pinging back and forth through the phone lines and over the wireless networks, eating up bandwidth like it's going out of fashion; no matter how asinine his opinion, or how ill thought out his argument, at that moment in time the guy is thinking, that's nailed it.

And he believes it. He really thinks that his half arsed bit of bile, his insult of someone he doesn't know, his purblind prejudice, his cack handed attempt at a joke, his nauseous bigotry, is about to be lapped up by a grateful audience. They are going to nod admiringly at his stinging insight, instantly converted to his way - the right way - of thinking.

I'm with the toilet wall guy, really. In theory, I'm not. I buy into all the yada yada yada about how good it is that the traditional forms of media are being challenged by the new kid on the block that is t'internet. It's just a pity the new kid is such a wanker.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Not Dead Yet

I've only ever managed to get a few decent links and four months of inactivity has lost me two of the best, Harry and the Prof. Best, in link quality terms, I hasten to add, 'cos I think in terms of content, they have run out of steam in the same way that I have, it's just that no one has told their typing fingers. Harry's comment boxes have turned into LGF Lite and the main posts have their backs turned firmly on anything that might effectively challenge their view of the world, so all that's left for the faithful is Galloway and Benji baiting. What larks.

As for the Prof, well, what can you say? He sometimes has something worth reading, but has the man got an actual life? I think I last looked at his blog just before Christmas, and today my RSS reader tells me he has 200 posts I haven't read. Two hundred. There comes a point where you have to wonder who is the sadder, the person who churns it out out or the person who takes it in. Just think, if you've got twenty or so blogs with that amount of posts on your reader, how much time in the day is left to work, talk to real people and walk the dog? Factor in the time to participate in a couple of futile arguments in the comment boxes a day, follow ten more that you're not involved in, plus the time to follow a few random links - if it were a spotty teenager defragging his hard drive you'd pull the plug out the wall and kick him blinking and nervous out the front door, and if it were a celeb snorting something noxious you'd check 'em into rehab for life.

I'm off to do something worthwhile with my time. Freddie Flintoff Cricket on PS2. See you in four months.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Shameless Excuse to Recycle Old Joke - Number Twelvety Thrumpty Seven

I know this is late to the party, but I don't think my favourite one made it anywhere else.

I call my dog Pinter.
Why's that, then?
Because he's got long

I thang you.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Blog Stats That Matter

Let's see what we have on the font pages and comments this week.

Little Green Footballs - 30 odd dhimmis and a couple of moonbats.

Harry's Place - 14 Galloways and a dozen stoppers.

Samizdata A disappointing 3 taxes, 3 states and just the one gratuitous picture of a fit woman.

Norm - 5 crickets, 3 Guardians, 1 jihad.

Andrew Sullivan - 1 feeble excuse to beg for money.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Non Blue Eyed Son

Watching four hours of Dylan on the telly recently sparked vivid memories for me from thirty years ago and more.

In those days, as a seventeen year old living with his parents, listening to music was not like it is now. Turn it off, for God's sake was a parental reflex action, unlike today where teenagers are often disgusted to find their acts of high decibel rebellion can be trumped by pretty much anything from the parental back catalogue.

"Guns and Roses? You should listen to Led Zep. Greenday? Where would they be without the Clash? Dance Music? I remember when New Order invented it"

Thirty years ago there was no such overlap, it was a rare parent prepared to walk the line from Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Black Sabbath, the Stones, Fairport Convention, The Grateful Dead and the Mahavishnu Orchestra to blues, jazz, R and B (in the old sense) traditional folk, country, older popular song etc and find some common ground. And it was an even rarer teenager prepared to walk it with them.

My old man was a curmudgeonly old bastard, funnily enough, and I was a not untypical arrogant, selfish up his own arse teenager, so in our house tensions ran high at the best of times. Added to that, my father held a bizarre conviction that evil entered Britain with Bill Haley and the Comets, so the various drug addled long hairs adorning the covers of my records or strutting their stuff on the Old Grey Whistle Test were guaranteed to send him into apopletic rages.

But once he walked in on me listening to A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall and he did a sort of double take. The insistent guitar played and those mesmeric words tumbled forth:

Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin',
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
Where the executioner's face is always well hidden,
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
Where black is the color, where none is the number,
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin',
But I'll know my song well before I start singin',
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.

My old man didn't say anything, but he picked up the blue cover of More Bob Dylan Greatest Hits and perused it until the end of the track. Then he put it carefully back on the table and left. We never spoke of the moment again and it didn't herald the beginning of a new understanding or anything like that, but my copy of Song and Dance Man, the Art of Bob Dylan went missing for a few days and I like to think that he read it.