Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Curmudgeonly Blog Awards 2004 3 - The Dirty Batch

Random Pile of Shit Award
And the winner is the following random comment picked from a random post at Little Green Footballs:
The correct answer is to have a trial to determine if someone is involved, in any manner, with a terrorist group. If so kill them. The Royal Navy never had a trial as to which pirate fired the guns, because it was futile. Whether pirates, brigands or terrorists, simply belonging to the organization makes them a permanent problem, a problem that is only eliminated by their death. BTW, this is what we Americans should do to all those in Gitmo, and any other terrorist we capture. I, for one, would like a nice, public and messy execution (firing squad) to let the koranimals know that we mean business.

Periodic Shit Shower Award
And the winner is Glenn Reynolds. Every now and then the famed (in his own mind, at least) Instapundit stalwart links to Harry and provides a rush of comments demonstrating what war mongering shitheads are really like.

Do We Give a Shit if They Know it's Christmas Award
And the winners are those Samizdata boys for their every word on free trade and how those thin people deserve everything they don't get.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Curmudgeonly Blog Awards 2004 2 - The Next Batch

Arguing With Yourself Award
And the Winner is the Kid Cuthbertson, with his flexible attitude to human nature, depending on which side of the political divide it is being attacked from:
..the criticism is that Younge objects to the normal human impulse to see mothers as playing a unique role in their kids' upbringing, and to see heterosexuality as the normal standard, not one 'lifestyle choice' among many. That's what I mean by the Left's war on human nature.

...or did it give you a darker view of human nature, making you realise that, given the absence of a natural desire to be kind and considerate, maybe a shared sense of right and wrong can be an important thing, that stringent penalties for wrongdoers can be a good idea?

Whore's Knickers Award

And the winner is the comments section at Harry's Place. Caught between the strong desire to attract visitors with lively debate and the equally strong desire to keep quiet the fuckers who disagree with them, the proprietors of Harry's just don't know what to do with those pesky comments.

The Man They Couldn't Could Gag Award
And the winner is Tom Watson, incorrigible backbencher and blogger whose pioneering site stuttered to a halt when he joined The New Labour Whip's Office.

Curmudgeonly Blog Awards 2004

I'm getting mine in before the rush starts.

Voice of Reason Award
And the winner is Morgoth, Wiccan and vacuous commenter at Harry's Place with this little gem, which went virtually unchallenged:
Well, confirmation of what I have been saying for a long time - the so-called "anti-war" left hate the West so much that they have thrown their lot in with the islamic head-choppers. They are nothing but dhimmi binladenist useful idiots.

Libertarian of the Year

And the winner is Paul Coulam, commenter over at the Kid's, with this poignant reminder of what it is like to be so much better than everyone else:
When I did stand for Parliamnet in the 1992 General election I got a magnificent 125 votes. That was before I had fully realised the futility of democracy.

Onanist of the Year

And the winner is Stephen, pass the pies, Pollard:

...First, have a look at the url: stephenpollard.net It's a site, you'll notice, written by me. And it is focused on pieces wrtiten by me, of which my book is the largest I have ever undertaken. So guess what? I'm linking to pieces about the book.

Here's the second suggestion. If you don't like that - go somewhere else. There's a good few million other sites from which you can choose.

Yes, I'll be covering some other subjects soon, but at the moment my days are somewhat dominated by the fall out from my book, and that's all I've time to cover.

There. Got that off my chest.

The Guardian has a piece by Martin Kettle prompted by my book, which argues that...

Oliver Kamm Virtual Temazepam Award

And the winner, as ever, is our eponymous hero himself:
I turn ineluctably to the subject of the admirers of Professor Noam Chomsky. Members of that community spend much time and expend much effort in reassuring each other that when, a quarter-century ago, their hero intervened in support of the Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson he was disinterestedly and even heroically defending the principle of free expression. Readers who have followed the story from my earlier posts will know that that is nonsense. Chomsky defended the political legitimacy of Faurisson’s beliefs, and not merely the right to express those beliefs. He did this - inexcusably speculating that Faurisson was “a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort” – despite being fully aware that he was speaking of an antisemite and an apologist for Nazi Germany.

In the course of this discussion, I commented on a source of a type I would not normally discuss at all, viz. the weblog of a member of the community of Chomsky’s admirers. I made an exception in this case first because the blog in question was illustrative of a point I wished to make about the character of Chomsky's following (see below), and secondly because, to my perplexity, it cited me in Chomsky’s defence, by the seasoned expedient of quoting me out of context. Writers quite as obscure as I am have found themselves unwittingly transmuted into exhibits in the self-reinforcing mythology that Chomsky’s admirers construct for each other, and I was disinclined to acquiesce in a similar hoax through the excess of taciturnity for which my friends know me.

Because I described this blogger as a soft and hapless target, I feel it is only fair to refer my readers to his rejoinder, which I reproduce in full and as it is written...

More awards to follow, perhaps.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Arsiness and Old Politics

Despite the shaming daily occurrance of this little blog showing up un-updated on my RSS reader while everyone else posts effortlessly in a logorrhoeic orgy, I have - self evidently - not blogged for a while. I think this is because I am slowly sinking back into that apolitical state the majority of proper people inhabit. I still surf about in Bloggo Bloggo land, commenting occasionally, but the sheer arsiness of the politically active, even the virtual variety, is turning me off, just as it does everyone else. The new politics of the technological age is the same toxic blend of vitriol, arrogance and ignorance as the old and even less appealing because anyone can participate.

I need something to re-activate my interest, but all I can think of at the moment is a general slagging off of the arsiness of the usual suspects.

Watch this space. Or not. Whatever.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

There's been shit galore in the blogosphere (that works as a sentence on its own, of course) about the US Elections from both sides of the political divide. From the sophisticated Four.More.Years, through the liberal hand wringing, wailing and gnashing of teeth at the disaster of those Four.More.Years, down the blind alley of the thumping mandate (3% of those who voted) and on to the it woz the God botherers wot won it, there has been no shortage of ill considered opinion to digest.

It's the God botherer thing that interests me, slightly. True enough as far as it goes, this notion of the evangelical vote being decisive, but there are those who would have us believe this is the end of secular politics in the US for a generation or more, as if things can't possibly change in the forseeable future. As if there's been a sea change in the make up of the American people that now makes it impossible for a non evangelical politician to make any headway whatsoever. What bollocks. All it proves is that the Republicans were more efficient in getting their sleeping giants to the poll booths than the Democrats were.

Tacking on the gay marriage thing was a master stroke, bringing the spiritual Luddites on board, and Kerry's camp couldn't bring out enough of their natural allies to counter them. I'm thinking of those young people who don't want to be American idiots. (Not my phrase, for those of you over forty who don't have kids.) There were high hopes in Democrat circles that they were going to do the business, but for the most part they stayed away. It wasn't enough for them that Kerry wasn't Bush. Which reflects pretty well on them and badly on those who took their support for granted.

Kids, eh. You can never rely on them.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Kid has been getting all hectoring and didactic again, as befits one of his age. I remember that period of my own life well, but as the master songsmith who can't sing a note puts it, ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

Anyway, and rather fittingly, the Kid has been wittering on about something called political infancy, which is, as far as I can make out, an inabilty to see the other side of an argument sufficiently well to engage with it, leaving political debate as little more than slanging matches and mutual recrimination. Needless to say, it is the left wing, liberal elite who are the worst offenders, never having had exposure to the reasoned and popular contrary positions espoused by all right thinking folk such as the Kid.

Almost every left-wing argument I have seen in favour of single-sex marriage or against free trade has shown this political infancy. Usually they are made as if the counter-arguments have never been made, because as far as the arguers are concerned, they never have been.

Well, since the Kid's preferred argument against gay marriage is that a man cannot be father to a pebble, it's not a charge many of the OVERWHELMINGLY LEFT WING MEDIA will lose much sleep over. Indeed, someone mentioned the pebble argument in the comments, to which the Kid responded by referring to another of his hectoring pieces about logical fallacies, saying that not all analogies are false. Well, no, but this one is, mate, and demonstrably so, by a mad Roman Emperor to boot.

Revisiting this subject, it came as quite a surprise to me that the famed pebble argument is not actually one of the Kid's, but was made by one Sam Schulman in the NRO:

However much I might wish to, I cannot be a father to a pebble — I cannot be a brother to a puppy — I cannot make my horse my consul. Just so, I cannot, and should not be able to, marry a man. If I want to be a brother to a puppy, are you abridging my rights by not permitting it? I may say what I please; saying it does not mean that it can be.

This is an argument that defeats itself and when it was put to the Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, AKA Caligula, by a trembling adviser in AD 40, it was dealt with in typically robust fashion. "So," the mad Emperor, looking for all the world like a young John Hurt, proclaimed, "you are telling me that I cannnot make Incitatus a consul? On the strength of the fact that a man cannot father a pebble? It is patently true a man cannot father a pebble. I have tried it myself, on several occasions. Sexual relations with a cliff face are not entirely unpleasant, but no matter how much seed is spilled and how often, neither rock nor pebble has ever been born of such a relationship. But what does this immutable fact have in common with the institution of consulship? I am Emperor of Rome. If I wish to re-define what it means to be a consul to include standing around looking horsy, shitting on the senate floor and eating oats, then it is in my gift to do so. It only needs what in centuries to come will be called the political will, and it can be done. You will have to come up with a better argument than that if you wish to stop me from going ahead with my plans."

Funnily enough, a better argument may have been forthcoming, because Caligula never did make his horse a consul, but at least the adviser shut up about, if you'll forgive the pun, fucking pebbles.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Walkers Cons the Nation

Laid back, not to say lazy, parent that I am, I've never worried unduly about what the kids stuffed down their throats, provided they got their fair share of decent food as well. The first two, boys, have always been able to eat what they like and remain thin as rakes. Indeed, the younger earned himself the name of Two Dinners Durkin for his outrage when he went to a friends to eat and then came home to find we hadn't cooked for him. "But you know I can always eat two dinners!" he protested. And it's true. Two dinners, two puddings and a heap of junk aswell and he still has the physique of David Beckham. (I'm biased, of course.)

Unfortunately my daughter is not quite so lucky. And, being an unobservant sort, it came as quite a surprise to me to find that at eight years of age, she was veering on the chunky side. Well, what do you do? Obesity is a worry, but so are eating disorders and I've read enough women's magazines to know that disasterous attitudes to food can start early and be kicked off by a single incautious phrase. So, over the past two years Mrs D and I have tried to keep the brakes on our daughter's junk intake without mentioning the f word, stressing the health benefits and wittering on about bad teeth to the extent that the poor kid'll probably develop a phobia of smiling.

And then there's the thorny issue of exercise. The boys, of course, were able to eat like gannets because they were never still. Football at every break time, charging up and down the street on their bikes, fighting, thundering up and down the stairs so much it used to drive us insane. But our dear daughter is cut from a different cloth. She is a quiet, diffident soul, with a stillness about her that is calming and tranquil, but not much good at raising the metabolic rate. She's a member of the groups of girls you see at the edge of the playground yattering on about who knows what and disdainful of those uncool, unsophisticated kids who actually have functioning legs.

We've tried everything. We've had her walking to school, cycling till her bum cries for mercy, walking the dog, playing badminton, swimming, hammering the PS2 dance mat for all it's worth, and while she has not complained about any of it, she is still not one of life's natural movers and she's still not exactly lissom.

So, it was with great interest that Mrs D and I found out that that nice Mr Linecker was going on the telly to get the nations fatties walking (Walkers, walking, geddit?) and to that end the junk purveyor whose shilling he takes is giving away little devices to measure the steps we take every day. Ten thousand is the target, apparently. Fair enough, think we, swallowing the natural cynicism which arises at such moments, it can't do any harm.

Can't it? It's a corporate scandal is what it is.

The little device arrives chez Durkin and is clipped on the belt of our daughter. After ten minutes of strolling nonchalently around the place as is her wont, we examined the total. Five hundred steps. Well done, girl you'll hit the 10K in no time, says I. Mrs D is less enthusiastic. Just reset it and walk around the kitchen, she orders. You know what's coming, I expect. Fifteen steps counted by three people, sixty two counted by the little device. A staggering four hundred and fourteen percent mark up.

A clear case of snack food giant conning the sedentary into eating ever more packets of fat laden potato based snacks, I think you'll agree.

Or it could have just broke in the post, I suppose.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

It gets boring trying to make you read Matthew Parris of a saturday, so I'll try and make you read Giles Coren instead.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The best political website in the world, ever.

We in the UK should have one.

Hat tip Dick Cheney, via Tom Watson.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Monday, September 20, 2004

Bonkers Watch

Well, I can beat most of these into a cocked hat. High for schizoid and narcissistic and moderate for most of the rest. Can't touch the Solomania guy, though. Must read more of him.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Fox Hunting and Related Trivia - Part the First

They voted, then, and the hounds are to be consigned to the dustbin of history. And the foxes, well, consigned to poison, snare and marksmen who can't tell the difference between them and thirteen year old boys.

So, let's look at the various arguments pushed by the different sides, look at the hypocrisy involved, the half truths, the inconsistencies, the, in short, general bollocks that passed for argument over the past, what, seven years.

The first absurdity was peddled by both sides, and that is the idea that foxes should be considered vermin and need to be controlled. Precious few on the anti side bothered to look into this, indeed, swallowed - to take a phrase from another bloodthirsty sport - hook, line and sinker the idea that but for controlling measures the countryside would be swarming with vulpines threatening the very existence of agriculture, taking lambs at will and fiendishly slaughtering chickens at every available opportunity for no other reason than the sheer joy of killing.

Had the antis bothered to look into this myth, they would have discovered that foxes account for somewhere between 0% and 5% of all lamb deaths, and since that 5% also includes deaths from dogs, crows, magpies and other misadventure, it would appear to be a minor concern, especially when you consider that 30% of lamb deaths occur through exposure and starvation.(Hansard) Just think on that for a second. 30% of lambs die through exposure and starvation and the farmers are trying to tell us that foxes have an economic impact on their activities with their less than 5% kills.

And then there's that old chestnut, the marauding cold hearted chicken killer. "Have you ever seen," a tearful country dweller will demand, "the terrible carnage a fox will leave behind in a chicken coop? They will kill twenty chickens for the sheer fun of it. They are sadistic killers."

This was probably the most dishonest, shameless argument of the lot. A case of having it both ways. On the one hand, the pro hunt lobby were busy telling us that squeamish townies anthropomorphosizing like mad about poor foxies were allowing false sentiment to get in the way of sensible arguments about pest control. On the other hand, they give us the murderous fox who deserves to be torn limb from limb because it revels in killing chickens. Well, guys, the logical extension of that particular argument lies in medieval France, where, if I recall my history correctly, a pig could be tried for murder. And anyway, these days, the punishment for wanton cruelty to poultry is not particularly onerous - just ask Bernard Matthews.

Hunter guys - foxes are not cruel. They kill to eat. They have evolved over a period of time where food is scarce. Let them get amongst a load of chickens and they will kill them and take the corpses home if they can. Or they might get into a feeding frenzy like a shark does, I don't really know - or care - it's no reason to kill them with extreme cruelty. There may well be good reasons,in fact I happen to think there are, but that is not one of them. What it is a good reason to do is build decent fucking hen coops. It's not hard.

Part the Second to follow, if, as ever, I can be arsed.

Friday, September 17, 2004

I'm a Proper Blogger Now

Because I have finally got the mandatory Google query post nailed. I got a hit for Harry's Place troll. How good is that?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I see MPs will be voting on fox hunting today, and chances are they will overwhelmingly vote to ban it. For what it's worth, my view is that the law of untintended consequences will come into play and the countryside fox will be wiped out as country folk take up their guns and snares and poison with renewed vigour once the hounds are off the scene.

My interest, though, is in the arguments on all sides and how they have been presented and to what ends. It's a fascinating microcosm of the dismal level of political debate in this country and, if I can be arsed, I will turn my razor sharp mind to consider it in detail soon.

Monday, September 13, 2004

There have been many words written and spoken about the hideous mass murder in Beslan, and, as is the way of these things, most of them have generated considerably more heat than light. From the "yes, but what about..." morons to the tub thumping armchair warriors who seem to think they have a monopoly on outrage, and then on to the politicians like Jack Straw who mouth their platitudes while desperately thinking of ways to avoid explaining their hypocritical positions, few have come out with any credit.

I said below I couldn't begin to blog about it, and I have thought about leaving it at that. I would have done, too, if the various reactions had been less strange. And some of them have been bloody strange, to say the least. Why is it, for example, that whenever a terrorist outrage occurs, the response from some quarters is so dully predictable? A mealy mouthed reference to the horror, followed by, "But what about the atrocities perpetuated by..." I don't subscribe for a moment to the armchair warmongers' view that such people are demented apologists for terror, little better than the terrorists themselves, but there is a definite shortage of common decency in those reactions which invite such descriptions. And nothing whatsoever is gained by expressing those views at those times. Do they believe that, for instance, the thousands upon thousands of Chechens affected by Putin's vile policies who do not murder little children, indeed, who feel as sickened by Beslan as everybody else, welcome these comments? Do they want their own suffering portrayed as mere contextualisation for different horrors, or worse still, as cheap debating points? I think not.

If this over contextualisation baffles, then Harry's invocation of a former time stands as equally wierd. Just what is he suggesting here? That we make common cause with Putin, a man whose record suggests almost as callous a disregard for innocent life as the terrorists themselves? What are we to make of this:

There are some who suggest we can turn away from the world and simply hope that nothing will ever happen to us. Perhaps it could be possible. Perhaps, despite all the lessons of history to the contrary, we could hope that our enemy will leave us alone if we leave them free to act. But even if we ignored that history and took that step it would involve turning our backs on millions and leaving them to face the very real threat of being forced to live with oppression, terror and death.

In the context of Beslan, does this mean we should support Putin's policies in Chechnya? Does the slaughter of innocents in Beslan mean we should support the slaughterer of innocents elsewhere? In certain circles, I believe this is exactly what is required of us. The Times editorial, I think it was, said as much on the day after the event. "We must support President Putin." Why? Why is it seemingly impossible to condemn both sets of murderous bastards? Are not the Chechens who live with oppression, terror and death, not worthy of our concern, too? Or are they exempt on the grounds that evil people do atrocious things ostensibly in their name?

It all comes down, in the end, to our old friend, Realpolitik. When Jack Straw says it would be almost tasteless and it is disrespectful to the dead and the dying and their relatives to discuss the future of Chechnya at this time, what he is really saying is don't look too closely at our record on this because it doesn't stand up to close scrutiny, morally speaking.

In that former time invoked by Harry, we had to cosy up to Stalin in order to defeat Hitler, now, it seems, we must choke back our bile and cosy up to Putin, because his enemy is ours. And Bush's, and the whole free world's as well.

It's a view, and one not totally without merit. But there's no moral high ground that comes with it, no matter how much the armchair warriors would like to convince us, and themselves, that there is.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

I can't even begin to blog about the unspeakable horrors in Russia yesterday, but here's a couple of opinions from people who know a bit more than most about the background:

and this

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

According to the Belief O Matic quiz, I am:

A complete dickhead, actually. I've done the quiz three times now and on each occasion have failed to copy and paste the results.

But the different results tell their own story. I am simultaneously a Unitarian Universalist, a Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant and Liberal Quaker at one and the same time. And here's me thinking all along that I'm a common or garden atheist. For fuck's sake, Secular Humanist only came in the top three once. All those years at Sunday School must have taken their toll, or else the arguments of Mrs D, a recovering Jehovah's Witness, have had more of an effect than I care to admit. After all, the JWs came in at 45% on one of the tests.

I'm sticking with the Unitarian Universalists, though. They seem to be gentle souls. If anyone deviates from the true path of their belief, they just shrug their shoulders and say, "Yeah, okay, whatever. That's cool with us."

If only all the religions were like that, the world would be a different place. Confusing, maybe. Nicer, certainly.

Hat tip to The Prof.

Monday, August 30, 2004

I see the venerable John Humphrys has been taking a pop at TV.

I must say I agree with alot of what he says. All that stuff about challenging the government - spot on. Soaps being full of aggression and such. Spot on. Reality TV being a pile of pooh. Weeeeeell, perhaps.

Now, I'm not proud of my addiction to Big Brother, and I would not argue in it's defence for a moment. I have come to accept that in many things my tastes are irredeemably lowbrow. I hate all opera other than some of Puccini's more accessible stuff, I prefer Streets of London to almost any Dylan song, the only classical music I have any affection for is of the sort you get on compilation albums advertised in the dead of night on satellite telly, my favourite food is chicken tikka balti and my bedside reading matter at the moment is Sharpe's Tiger - a cracking good read, BTW.

So, there's no bullshit post modern ironic appreciation of drivel going on here. I watch Big Brother for the same reason everybody else does - there's nothing more fascinating than other people's lives. And if it's damaging, meretricious, seedy and cynical, well hey ho, who gives a shit.

So, in his analysis of Big Brother and the majority of the bastard children it has spawned, Humphrys is, in his po-faced fashion, surely correct; excepting one important example, and that is Wife Swap. He has completely missed the point of this one. Easily done, I suppose, since it is dressed up in reality telly's clothes, but most episodes are morality tales for the modern era.

For those not familiar with the format, Wife Swap does pretty much what it says on the tin. Two wives swap families for a couple of weeks, the first week living by the established rules of their new respective households and then in the second week getting the chance to impose their own ideas.

A typical example has a family of seven from, shall we say, a less than affluent part of town. The wife lets the kids do pretty much as they please since she's too busy cooking, cleaning and washing and the husband does fuck all in the house and barely knows the kid's names. Introduced into this environment is a repressed, up her own arse middle class woman who believes children should be constantly stimulated and be prepared for later life by doing their "fair share" of the household chores, which amounts to pretty much all of them. Her own kids, Simon and Persephone, are pale, timid creatures with worried frowns, masses of useless knowledge and permanent scars - both mental and physical - from being bullied at school.

So far, so car crash. And indeed, for the first few days the clash of personalities and cultures can be terrifying. But about three parts in strange things start to happen. The up her own arse middle class woman has bullied the husband into interacting with his kids and doing some things around the house. The kids themselves actually enjoy washing the pots rather than running around the house trashing the place. The husband slowly comes to realise that he has been taking the piss out of his missus for years and that being a proper dad is at least as rewarding as surfing the net or playing the Playstation on his own.

Back in the leafy suburb, events are no les startling. Simon and Persephone have been given a crash course in modern childhood. They get to watch a bit of telly, have friends around to stay, discover the joys of Alton Towers. The worried frowns disappear. Dad lightens up and lets the kids stay up after half nine occasionally.

In short, both sets of parents get to take a long hard look at the ways in which they fuck up their own and their kids'lives and the viewers are left to ponder on how they conduct theirs.

Positively Reithian, in fact.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Don't Click on "Next Blog"

Not because I want to keep you here forever, but because the second blog I came to tried to infect me with a trojan horse.

Thank you, Blogger.
Hello again, not been around for a while. Watching the Olympics, mainly. Especially the Badminton in the first week, which has led to even more enthusiastic than usual gallumphing around a court on my part trying to emulate the heroics of Gail Emms and that guy who looks like Stuart out of Big Brother.

I play at my local sport centre with a group of Asians and it is my experience there that has made me realise that my fond youthful dream of being a journalist was just fine staying where it was in la la land.

What would your average half decent political journo have done with the opportunity of socialising with a group people that includes a fair amount of Muslims, at this time in our history? Might he have broached the subject of the Iraq war, for instance? May he have used this opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of Muslim attitudes to 9/11, Islamophobia, Islamofacism etc? Or would he spend his time debating the demerits of the panhandle grip and the forehand serve?

Thought so.

Monday, August 09, 2004

The most boring blogger alive in typically po-faced form.

I think dear Oliver must have a similar problem with language as Bush. Anyone who writes such tedious, long winded sentences as he does must have a problem when verbalising his thoughts. I mean, with the best will in the world you'd get lost trying to spout it.

Actually, I'm wrong about his sentences. I've just been to have a look to find an example and most of his setences are fine. Quite a few have an elegance that he clearly strives for. It's his paragraphs I have the problem with. Not so much the paragraphs, actually. Not the paragraphs per se. Many are fine. More carefully constructed paragraphs you are unlikely to find, certainly in bloggo bloggo land.

It's all of it, really, I can't get on with. When you put it all together, those elegant sentences, those well constructed paragraphs, you can't escape the feeling, I can't anyway, that this is a bloke you'd run a mile from if you met him in real life. And that's before you analyse what he's actually saying.

I know he has many fans out there, and The Times has even been known to publish him, but to me he occupies the same territory as WJ Philips and Guessedworker.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

I don't often say it, but I think Blunkett's right about this.
Those asylum seekers, they get the best of everything. They come over here, get the best housing, jumping the queues, mind and get the best treatment on the NHS as well.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Nice blog, impeccable taste.
Bark on, Matthew, bark on.

I'm not gay or owt, or Tory for that matter, but I love that man.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Did the cassette kill the record industry? Did VHS kill cinema? These are the questions that come to my mind when the music industry bleaters bang on about file sharing. It has been blatantly obvious for years now that overpricing and competition from computer games, DVD and the like have had the biggest impact on CD sales and that file sharing is a relatively minor concern.

Now some new research challenges the bleater's view and goes some way to confirming what we always suspected, that file sharing actually increases sales.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

As a 70s guy, one of life's minor annoyances has been putting up with condescending lectures from up their own arse 60s lefties on the political brilliance of their decade compared to what came afterwards.

Now, it seems we have to put up with condescending lectures from up their own arse present day "lefties," too:

Politically the sixties generation came to maturity in the eighties. They were worse than useless. They threw away the precious gains of the forties and the sixties. Their irresponsibility in political attitudes ceded power to the right.

I don’t blame the sixties for crime today. I blame the eighties culture of greed, excess and selfishness. Trouble is, it was the Greers, the Kuireshis, the Tariq Ali’s- and their political equivalents at every level of the Labour party and the Democrats – at their prime in the Eighties, who were supposed to hold the line. We needed them to be making the compromises, getting their hands dirty for the sake of others against a rising tide of the right. They walked away from the fight to preserve their purity. Whether it was militant, or identity politics, or the Bennite revolt. It was the pose that mattered not the achievement.

Those of us who come after the deluge might have expected a society based on community, on compassion, on a society geared for the needs of the many, not the few. Instead, we got the triumph of the individual. The sink estate. The failing school. The low tax economy.  Of course, The right is truly  to blame, but I refuse to forgive those who spent that timed indulging themselves and their consciences, disappearing up their own arses (or noses) for a decade while the hard won achievements of half a century were thrown away.

So how, I wonder, did New Labour go about turning the tide and making the world a better place? By boldly challenging the flawed and failing ideology that brought us to this sorry state or by accepting and adopting its rhetoric and most of its policies while frantically playing down the importance of anything that smacked of Old Labour and those hard won achievements of the previous half century?

You decide.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Nick Cohen on the CGAS Party.

Oh, and hello, BTW. I was going to write a long, thoughtful and detailed piece on Butler, comparing and contrasting with Hutton, but my PC crashed at an inopportune moment. I'm lying, I couldn't be arsed.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

I see the PM decided to submit himself to the ultimate test of a politician's mettle - an interview with Steve Wright on Radio 2. None of your namby pambying around with the likes of Humphries and Paxman for our fearless warrior against terror. Ho no. It's the pitiless probing of Steve Wright in the afternoon for him. What a joke.

We all laughed when Thatcher spurned the big guns of her day after she came a cropper with Sir Robin "Do you think it was a funny joke, Mrs Thatcher?" Day in favour of cuddly old Jimmy Young, but even Jim's successor on Radio 2's sort of current affairs programme is too much for our Tone.

I listened to some of Blair's effort with Wrighty, before the toe curling insincerity got the better of me and I baled out, in the process missing Ask Elvis, possibly the finest few minutes of radio entertainment available now that Mark and Lard have gone their separate ways.

Anyway, one thing I did catch was a curiosity. They got to talking, as inevitably happens on these heavyweight political occasions, about working out. As in the gym. "Yes," says Tone, "I try to go to the gym three times a week." Whereupon Steve responded with something to the effect that it has been suggested this is a symptom of a mid-life crisis for Blair.

Who would suggest such a thing? Love Blair or loathe him, there's no denying this would be raising the bar considerably for mid-life crises. Consider the normal run of the things. Forty something guy, stuck in a dead end job, looks back over a life of squandered opportunities and unfulfilled dreams. So how would this be for Tony? Here I am, he murmurs sorrowfully, my life more than half over and what have I got to show for it? Well, I transformed the Labour Party into a modern, electable force, achieved a landslide victory, then a second term as Prime Minister and turned the Tories into also rans. I'm seen by many as a major player on the international stage...

You get the picture. Whatever regrets Blair might admit to in his darker moments, I'm not sure they involve better pecs and a six pack.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Self Regarding Pseudo-Intellectual Twat Watch

Even as a non-Christian I would love to be able to read the bible in its original language, alas all I can manage is Latin. Andrew Ian Dodge.

Find it in the comments here.

Shameless Excuse to Recycle Old Joke (no. eleventy five)

Saw the Basil D'Oliveira Story on the box last week. I remember watching him as a kid and remember the Dolly Affair, which, it is not too fanciful to argue, marked the beginning of the end of Apartheid. I must have been about eleven at the time and it was probably the first time that politics impinged on something I really cared about. The programme threw up some interesting and hitherto unknown facts and confirmed what everyone suspected all along; that there was collusion between the Pretoria and the establishment over here to keep Dolly out of the South Africa Tour of '68 and keep the cosy, rascist status quo that was International Cricket at the time.

That Dolly was sold down the river by everyone he trusted should suprise no one, but the strangest thing about it all was the incompetent way in which it was done. Either that or there was someone decent fighting his corner. For instance, Dolly was dropped for the last test before the tour, and, although controversial, a purely cricketing case could have been made for the decision. And when the opening batsman pulled out through injury, Dolly was hardly the first choice replacement as an all rounder who batted at number six. But come in to the team he did and played the finest innings of his career. There was no earthly reason not to pick him for the tour, but they didn't, then they did, and the rest is history.

All this, though, is merely a preamble to the first thing that came into my head as I settled down to watch the programme. It was, of course, the Fawlty Towers episode where the Colonel is reminiscing. "Ah yes," he says, "a woman. I knew one once. Took her to see India. At the Oval. Marvellous day. But she kept calling the Indians niggers. 'Oh no, no,' I told her, 'you can't call them niggers. The West Indians are niggers. These are wogs."

I thang you.

Three posts in four days last week didn't herald a new dawn of regular posting, because, frankly, real life is more fun, except when it involves Englishmen kicking a ball, of course. Bring back El Tel, I say. The man may or may not be straight as a die in his business life, but, more importantly, I don't think he would have tried to sit on a slender lead while his opposite number threw more and more attackers onto the field.

I bow to no one in my respect for what Sven has achieved since the dark days of Kevin Keegan, but when it comes to playing top class opponents, he doesn't seem to learn much. Grab a lead and defend deep worked against Argentina in the World Cup, but it failed against Brazil and it failed against France and it has failed again against Portugal, but in the press conference Sven was unrepentant, so we can expect more of the same in two years time in Germany. Oh well, at least the fans behaved themselves.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Unwilling Member of the CGAS Party

I didn't want to join the Couldn't Give a Shit Party, honestly, I didn't.

It's true that I can never work up much interest for local or Euro Elections, but on the day I usually amble down to the polling station to put my cross in the box. I rather like the quaint old fashionness of the voting process - the earnest people behind their tables, the rickety booth, the important looking ballot boxes, and I often think about other countries where the whole thing is a lot less civilised - pitched battles over the ballot boxes and the like. We are privileged to take peaceful elections as read, and I'm one of those annoying people who considers wasting the vote as bordering on the criminal. Even if there's nobody to vote for, there's always someone to vote against and as a last resort you can always scrawl "none of the above". Anyway, what I'm saying is that it's unusual for me to miss a vote, even when I don't take alot of notice of the campaigns.

Unfortunately, I'm not very good with mail. I know what the letters with cheques in look like and know what the bills look like, the rest get binned or put to one side for perusal at a later date. Ones that say "Open Immediately" tend to get left around the place. I was vaguely aware of the postal voting thing and that we were in a pilot scheme area, but hadn't taken a deal of notice, so when the ballot papers came, I just assumed I could take them down the polling station on the day.

Ho no. When they say postal voting they mean postal voting, so when I opened the letter this afternoon I discovered it was too late to fucking well vote. The bastards have disenfranchised me, they don't do polling stations. They don't do metal boxes with slits in and little pencils on string and when they say elections on June 10th they mean you have to post it to to arrive by June 10th, at least in my neck of the woods they do.

So, I have supported the majority party at these elections.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Urak Hai of Politics

So, Reagan is no longer with us, although to be honest, he hasn't been with us for ten years or so. Alzheimers is a terrible thing, and no one would wish it on their worst enemy, or indeed the effects on their worst enemy's families.

That said, it is the politicians' lot, and the celebrity politicians even more so, to have their entrails picked over mercilessly, although to read much of the press coverage of Reagan's legacy, it seems that he, like Richard Nixon before him, has escaped rather lightly.

He was a strange old cove and no mistake. Probably the first celebrity politician of the modern era, he was some sort of Sarumanesque hybrid. "It is a politician, but one like you've never seen before. He is at home in front of the television cameras, he reads an autocue deftly and exudes an easy charm that makes even his enemies warm to him. What sort of fell beast is this?"

For the Free Marketeers and those of the Libertarian Right persuasion he is an iconic figure, single handedly (well, with a little help from his ally this side of the pond) bringing communism to it knees and bringing us Reaganomics. To others, his unwillingness in foreign policy to deviate from the my enemy's enemy is my friend mantra was enough to condemn him as a murderous old bastard by proxy. And if, as his admirers believe, his implacable hostility to communism did help rid the world of a cancerous evil, it also played its part in giving rise to another, in the shape of Bin Laden and his not so Merrie Men.

But just how crucial was Reagan's reckless defence spending and "Mr Gorbachev, tear down the wall" rhetoric in consigning Soviet Style Communism to the dustbin of history? If we imagine the Cold War as essentially a conflict between two economic models, one amoral and efficient, the other immoral (in a sense, since it was it was run by politicians, who always tend to immorality in the absence of the means to throw them out) and inefficient, there was always going to be one winner. And the gung ho admirers of Reagan surely have it exactly wrong when they try to make out it was his hostility that brought about the change, when actually it was his arms limitation and conciliatory attitude that allowed him to do business with Gorbachev, the greater architect of the end of the Cold War.

And then there's Reaganomics. Well, it's not a word you hear much these days, with good reason, since it amounted to little more than "Aw shucks, ain't taxes just the worse thing?" And in Reagan's folksy, homespun philosophy there was no room for a cautionary exhortation along the lines of "neither a borrower or a lender be," so by the end of his tenure he left a mountain of debt that would have sent your average rancher galloping off into the sunset.

Which is where we'll leave him.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

A bit of a hiatus on the blogging front, what with Big Brother and having one of my, thankfully rare nowadays, bouts of intense labour. I've almost forgotten what its like to be slaving till four o clock in the morning. Still, wolves at the door and all that.

What about Kitten, eh? Come on, don't get all high and mighty, you watch it the same as the rest of us, you just don't like to admit it. I'll tell you what, though, I bet there's many an old lefty who watched Kitten with a strange mixture of horror, condescension and a squirmy feeling of deja vu. Gay, straight, man or woman, there's not many of us who haven't made similarly spectacular exhibitions of ourselves in our former lives.

No? Must be just me, then.

So, what's been happening? Oil prices wobble due to terrorism in Saudi, Iraq is reasonably quiet and moves towards June 30th with something approaching optimism, the European elections barely register on the radar and Gwyneth Dunwoody (can't be arsed to check the spelling or link to the story) pulls off the neat trick of making otherwise reasonable people side with the fuel protesters (who in the event didn't protest due to some nifty governmental footwork.)

Did you hear the Dunwoody woman? Spouting on about, if I remember correctly, how protest, legal protest, mind, was anti democratic? Eee, with elected politicians like her about, who needs dictators?

In blogland, things are quiet bordering on the soporific. The Kid is canvassing, Matt T is away, The Edge of Corporate Americas Sword and Samisdata are as dully predictable as ever, Crooked Timber too damned erudite for its own good and the team who must not be named are busy obsessing over those towering adversaries, the SWP and the Respect coalition.

What's a guy to do? Watch BB, of course.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Hitchens Defends Chalabi

And a lame job he makes of it, too.

A few cheap points - mine, that is, not his:

and the charge of puppetry, never very convincing, seems to have been dropped lately.

Not very convincing? Call me an old cynic, but $340,000 a month to keep an exiled political party in beer and sarnies doesn't exactly discourage charges of puppetry.

It has now been replaced with a whole new indictment: that Chalabi tricked the United States into war, possibly on Iran's behalf, and that he has given national security secrets to Iran. The first half of this is grotesque on its face. Even if you assume the worst to be true—that the INC's "defectors" were either mistaken or were conscious, coached fabricators—the fact remains that the crucial presentation of the administration's case on WMD and terrorism was made at the United Nations by Secretary of State Colin Powell, with CIA Director George Tenet sitting right behind him, after those two men most hostile to Chalabi had been closeted together.

For fucks sake, Christopher, don't you have a memory? You don't recall the power struggles between the doves, exemplified by Colin Powell, and the neo con hawks with their man Chalabi by their side? You don't recall the near humiliation of Powell as he was sidelined and the hawks ran rampant? He was defeated and he had the choice of chucking it all in or nodding and smiling. Being a politician he chose the latter. As for Tenet, who gives a shit where he sat? The CIA Director only exists as a fall guy for the failings of his political masters, anyway.

As to the accusation that Chalabi has endangered American national security by slipping secrets to Tehran, I can only say that three days ago, I broke my usual rule and had a "deep background" meeting with a very "senior administration official." This person, given every opportunity to signal even slightly that I ought to treat the charges seriously, pointedly declined to do so. I thought I should put this on record.

I just love this one. Christopher, mate,it's a good rule, and when you break it you look like a complete twat.

There's no mention in the Slate article of the corruption accusations levelled at Chalabi in Iraq and the alleged profiteering of his family members in the reconstruction efforts, but I won't go into that now.

Surely it's plain to anyone with a modicum of sense that the standing of Chalabi is merely a barometer of the twists and turns of the power struggles in the Bush administration.

The neo con's dream is doing a Freddy Kruger and their puppet is having his strings slashed.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Muslim Tory MEP slams 'racist' party. Now, far be it for me to cast aspersions on the intelligence of anyone, much less a millionaire pharmacist, but what the fuck did he expect?

Friday, May 21, 2004

Who'd a thought the grey one could have talked such sense?

In fact I'm starting to get worried. Ever since this, I've noticed a small but perceptible shift in my thinking. For a start, I don't automatically shudder at everything the Kid writes. I find Malcolm Rifkind a model of good sense these days, and now this, agreeing with John Major, of all people. Where will it end?
I must admit I get tired of the formulaic trashing of STWC by certain members of bloggo bloggo land, who cannot be named here,but this guy knows his onions and no mistake.

Friday, May 14, 2004

I just love India. At a time when much of the rest of the world is wallowing in religious fundamentalism, India goes, been there, done that, didn't like it.

Never mind that they're bringing back the Congress Party, with their lofty rhetoric and fingers in the till; hopefully Hindu bigotry - something of a contradiction in terms to the spirit, at least, of that curious religion - will be on the backburner for a while.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Hello again. Been away in Cyprus then had to deal with all the shit you get when you leave an 18 year old in charge of things.

Avoided the interwebnet while away and kept newspaper reading to a minimum. You know how it is, nonchalantly scanning the headlines of the red tops as you walk past the shop, wondering whether to buy one and then thinking fuck it, I'm on holiday, I don't want to know.

Well, what can you say? As someone who agonised long and hard about this war and despaired over who to support when there were no good guys, it saddens and sickens me to find some of my worst fears over the outcome being realised.

One of the weirder things to come out of this was Sully's take on Nick Berg's gruesome murder:

Let's start an internet campaign to insist that the major media - including the New Yorker, the networks, the major newsweeklies, and every major paper - run a picture of Zarqawi holding up Nick Berg's severed head. It's time to release the Pearl video and stills too. Enough with the double standards. The media were absolutely right to show the abuse photos. But they are only part of the story. It's about time the media gave us all of it, however harrowing it is.

I may have missed something, but the pictures I've seen of Abu Ghraib, degrading and shocking as they are, stop short of such hideousness. So, in Sully's mind there must be a different level of barbarity he wants my ten year old daughter (for instance) to see, depending on who is the perpetrator. And why stop at the severed head held up, Andrew? Why not a loving, lingering shot of the moment the jugular was severed, alongside, for balance, an Iraqi child's head hit by a sniper's bullet? Oh, yes, sorry, the balance thing, a bit of a misteak. It's not what this is about at all. Besides, doesn't happen. They murder , hideously, in cold blood, we just cause a bit of collateral damage.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Kicking the door down

Of course, there will be an appeal, but it's a start. If you are interested in this stuff, and not many people are, then KickAaas is the place to go.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Libertarian Bollocks Watch

You know what I mean, so you can leave any comments about Perry De Havilland's testes at the door. No, this little gem was on the Today Programme this morning. For those who can't be arsed to listen, it's about an "Urban Planner" who has decided that the best way to make the road outside a school safer is to get rid of such statist, authoritarian symbols of repression as white lines and road signs in order that drivers reconnect with their environment and drive responsibly. You see, drivers need to take a leaf out of pedestrians' book. Pedestrians, by being aware of their surroundings and not relying on artificial, authoritarian rules, use a range of skills that enable them negotiate the tricky task of walking down the street without getting themselves killed. If drivers didn't have to worry about white lines, signs and the highway code they would do the same. Simple, innit?
Jonathon Friedland on Blair, Bush and Doublespeak and the Kid talking a close approximation of sense for a change.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Since the Cesspool is off limits - self imposed, I hasten to add - to me for my own blogging purposes for a while, I have been loitering with intent in a shifty, guilty way, over at the Kid's recently.

Ah, the vigour of the youthful mind is a wonderful thing. When the Kid drew attention to the bonkers end of the Grauniad's forum, I made a comment to the effect that he should be wary of smearing a place on the strength of it's barmy users, lest someone should do the same to him. And, seeing as the likes of WJ Philips and Guessedworker are among his regular contributors, this is very real danger. The Kid replied that it only happened to him once, courtesy of one J Durkin. I must say I am impressed at the boy's diligence and memory. He will go far.

Also in the exchange was this:

Middleagedcurmudgeon writes: "I keep going back to have another guilty peek when I could be posting or better still, working."

This is the key sentence-- a confession. The first stage in encountering unfamiliar ideas is guilty fascination; next comes spluttering, caricatural dismissal (see above); then recidivist entertaining of the heresies as fresh evidence seems to support them; and finally (usually suprisingly rapidly) outright acceptance, accompanied by a face-saving "but I believe a moderate, rational, polite version of it."

You can see this at work at a higher intellectual level in the astonishingly speedy collapse of the regnant ideology of race relations among self-styled progressive opinion formers such as Furedi, Selbourne, Goodhart and Melanie Phillips. "I'm not a racist, but..." The "but" gets bigger and bigger.

posted by someone anonymously. My money is on Guessedworker, partly because it bears his imprint of pomposity and cod intellectualism and partly because he is the only person I have ever come across who might use the word regnant.

I must say, though, I am keeping a weather eye on my attitudes from hereon in, just in case I find myself lurching into the murkier areas of racist thought. I mean, as he so rightly says, these are unfamiliar ideas he is talking about, you never know how they are going to affect you. I've only been properly aware of them of them for around thirty five years, which in the scheme of things is no time at all.

I think though, that for the moment I am safe, although a seismic shift in my thinking may be underway. I've always been a bit of a wimpy, pacific sort of guy, but I'm beginning to think there are certain Caucasians in bloggo bloggo land who might benefit from a good kicking.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Ok, the moratorium will continue, but not today. Brownie's post really is such a crock of shite that I can't contain myself.

So, ANY war to depose Saddam would have left a power vacuum that the fundamentalist clerics could exploit to devastating effect? ANY war with ANY aftermath would have disbanded the Iraqi army and sent them home with their guns, no jobs to go to and with a simmering resentment? ANY occupying force would have so comprehensively de-Baathified the place that the Sunnis would have felt they had no voice in the new Iraq? ANY war would have resulted in the country being sold off to foreigners, sorry, had the economy opened up, without any say from the Iraqi people, while war was still raging in anything but name and 70% of the workforce were without jobs? ANY war and ANY occupation would have squandered goodwill towards it with helicopter gunships piling into residential areas, peaceful protesters killed and something that looks suspiciously like collective punishment in Falluja? ANY war's proponents would have taken the word of a power hungry fraudster that the occupiers would be welcomed with dancing in the streets? ANY war would have been prosecuted with barely a thought for what might happen if the dancing Iraqis failed to materialise?

Yeah, right.
Since calling the Cesspool totally irrelevant, I've not shut up about the place and visit more often than ever. So I now impose a moratorium on references thereto, which I will no doubt break forthwith as I notice Brownie has joined the team.
Over at the Cesspool, the latest crime of the Stopper these days is schadenfreude. It's everywhere, apparently, this schadenfreude. All the comment from the anti war crowd about the latest tragic turn of events in Iraq, is schadenfreude of the worst kind. Every op-ed drawing attention to the fact that many who opposed the war did so on fears that this sort of outcome was a possibility, if not a probability, is morally distasteful and the writer is indulging in schadenfreude even if, maybe especially if, they specifically warn against it. It's the tone, you see. While pretending to offer an opinion as to what is going on and why, what they are really doing is rejoicing in the bloody slaughter of Iraqis and Coalition forces. Which only goes to prove, of course, what a morally bankrupt, evil crowd they are.

It's a ploy as old as politics itself, of course, to tar your opponents with the brush of outrage to cover up the deficiencies in your own arguments; and now the Hawks, both Liberal and Neocon, need ever bigger brushes. As the pretexts for war are shown up for what they really were, as the lies are unravelled and events conspire to do what they always do and confound expectations, you might think one or two of the hawks would reconsider their positions.

Not yet, though, not while there's accusations of schadenfreude to throw around.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Blogging's a funny old thing. Here was I in the process of winding things down a la Ryan from Manchester on the grounds that real life is more important than t'internet when the Cess pool goes and gives me a link, and Ryan's place staggers back into life. It's a sign, I tell you. Posting will, therefore, continue, albeit as fitfully as ever.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Bush and Blair made secret pact for Iraq war.

Makes no difference, I suppose, to leftie hawks like Harry and Hitchens, but the rest of us might show a bit of interest, if only to say, "I told you so."
Great stuff from Nick Cohen. Still a fine journalist when he's not talking bollocks about Iraq.

Friday, March 26, 2004

I once called Harry's Place something like the most civilised of political blogs. Not these days, it ain't. It's a seething, vitriolic cess pool.

Oh yes, and completely irrelevant.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Was 1976 the best year of your life?

Actually, this might explain something I've thought about quite alot, though not very seriously, as will no doubt become abundantly clear.

In the demonology since the realignment of British politics, the seventies are synonymous with all that was shite with the old world order. In what is laughably known as the political spectrum these days, it is axiomatic that things are so much better now than they were in the days when we went cap in hand to the IMF.

Unlike many who pontificate on such matters, I was around in 1976 as - at 18 years old - an almost fully functioning human being, and funnily enough I enjoyed life. Jobs were relatively easy to come by and the famed inefficiency of British Industry mean that the workplace was a pretty cool place to be. You hung out, chilled, did a bit of work now and then and got paid for the privilege .

Many of the things that exercise us these days were much less common then. Time poverty, widespread depression and stress related illnesses were concepts yet to trouble us unduly. The gap between rich and poor was less and the underclass hardly existed.

Summers were better, too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Support for my Nader as Right Wing fifith columnist theory.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

As an adjunct to the Blog Guide, sadly pulled by the editor after only two installments, I would like to offer a further service to my reader. There are so many opinions and so much wordage around bloggo bloggo land that anything that permits someone with an actual life to lead to skip posts and comments can only be a good thing. With this in mind I am compiling a list of typical bloggo phrases that you might come across, along with what they inevitably presage and/or what they say about the poster, so you can make an early, informed choice about whether it is worth reading on.

ZOG - the poster is(tpi) a rabidly anti-semitic twat.

As Anne Coulter so rightly says... - inevitably leads to (ilt) Socialists are filth.

Here's my fisking of... - ilt random passages of an article cut and pasted onto a blog interspersed with obviously not.

...they must admit that this is an argument they are not going to win - ilt 157 intemperate comments wherein nobody admits anything to anybody.

There are no ifs or buts about it - tpi a smug, self satisfied twat.

Moral equivalence.. - ilt ...pro-fascist apologists for terror at the BBC/Guardian/Independent.

Those Liberal Democrat... - ilt 1,000 words of tedious, irrelevant shite.

... failed statist, protectionist policies... - ilt a wordy, fatuous argument whereby all is for the best in the best of all free market capitalist worlds as long as big business is allowed to make shitloads.

I have no intention of rising to your ad hominem bait... - ilt ...you fucking spacky troll.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

The world according to the Kid.

I wonder what it's like, living in that head of his.

Friday, March 05, 2004

So, who's the sharpest leftie blogger, hm,hm? University egghead Dsquared, ever ready with a Bon Mot or three on a vast range of cerebal topics over at Crooked Timber. Or the needle sharp lawyer, Marcus, whose elegant dissertations at Harry's Place have delighted friends and frustrated foes for seemingly as long as there has been bloggie argufying?

Only one way to find out. FIGHT!

Sunday, February 29, 2004

If I Don't Admit it, it Ain't Happening

Matthew Parris, always worth a read.

Where but in Britain does there exist this remarkable capacity to be shocked by what we already know? Rather like those wives who are pretty damned sure their husbands are having an affair, but would prefer not to hear the fact stated, it seems that what affronts us is not the truth, of which we were more or less aware, but a change in the status of the truth.

A mate of mine told me a strange tale that illustrates this curious phenomenon.

A couple of weeks before my mate's stepson's sixteenth birthday, the lad's girlfriend had booked for the two of them to go to London for the weekend as his Christmas present. They'd been going out for 18 months or so, and had started a sexual relationship after about 6 months. My mate and his wife had not been too happy about this at the time, but had talked it through and were somewhat surprised and mollified at the young couple's responsibility. They are both bright, ambitious kids, the last thing they want is a baby and they know all about STDs and the rest.

The boy's biological father, who is also involved in his life, was informed at the time and didn't speak to his son about it at all.

When the idea of a weekend in London was tossed around, the stepdad and mother's worries were all to do with the practicalities of two youngsters being away for the weekend in the smoke - but they reasoned it was all part of growing up and hey, in a couple of weeks the boy was going to be 16 and the girl already was. If they were nearly old enough to get married, earn a living etc, they were surely old enough to spend a weekend away together.

But then the biological father threw in a googly. He objected on the grounds that his son was under the age of sexual consent. But you've known about his sexual relationship for months, was the not unreasonable reply. Surely the time to object was when it first came to light? And okay, then, how about they change the booking for after the boy's 16th birthday? Actually, came the reply, I'd still veto it. Why? Well, I don't approve of this sexual relationship, I don't think my son is sufficiently mature enough to handle it and by giving my consent to him going away for the weekend would mean I condone the relationship. But you've tacitly condoned it for months. You've left any practical difficulties to the mother and stepdad. Now you're wading in at this stage, it doesn't make sense. I'm sorry, that's just the way it is. And that's how it stayed.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

If, dear reader, you are familiar with the work of Tom Sharpe, you will no doubt be aware of the illness besetting the ladies of Piemburg Mental Hospital, namely Black Cock Fever - an obsessive, fearful fascination of that which no decent white South African (this is apartheid South Africa, of course) should ever contemplate. "They wrap them round their thighs, you know," they whisper in awed tones. "They tie rocks to them until they reach their ankles."

The more astute of you will know where I am going with this - someone we all know and love maybe suffering from a related illness. For the rest of you, I will just mention the phrase Father to a pebble and leave it at that.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Ralph for President

I have sometimes wondered if certain high profile lefties are really moles in deep cover or just plain bonkers.

Tony Benn for one. For many years now he has tottered on the line between credible, if fanciful leftism and outright barmpotism that makes the right's job just too easy for it to be a coincidence. I mean, that interview with Saddam Hussein. Why, Tony, why?

But then he'll be on the radio again talking with a reasonable approximation of sensibleness and one's inclined to think, Yeah, I can see why he's respected across the political divide. The other day, however, on the Today programme, he was neither sensible, endearingly bonkers, or even working as a right wing fifth columnist. Sad to say he just sounded like a confused old git.

It was a piece on a new book of essays looking at the Labour governments of Wilson and Callaghan. The editor of the book was saying how no one, left or right, had a good word to say about those times, mainly because of their own political axe grinding, and Tony just waded in, arguing and getting irate about stuff that hadn't even been said. The whole discussion ended up as a farce. Shame. Time to hang up microphone, Tone.

Another Rightie fifth columnist has got to be Ralph Nader. He's going to stand for president again. As if winning it for Bush last time wasn't good enough.

Still, the world would be a duller place without the barmpot left and, if I can take issue with what I've just said without straying into the barmpot area myself, Nader may as well go for it. What the hell, has recent history shown any evidence that the Democats are any less vile than Republicans?

Nader for president and pass the straightjacket.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

The reality of life in liberated Iraq.
So Ken is not a leftist icon after all.

I kind of agree with Cohen about the congestion charge. It does mean that those forced off the road are the poorest, leaving the roads free for the rich gas guzzlers. If the object was to get traffic off the roads, Livingstone could have followed the Italians. In Florence, if memory serves, they have a system based on car reg numbers, with odd days and even days. The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn't generate revenue, which a cynic might say is the primary purpose of Ken's exercise.

Ken's cosying to big business, talking radical and acting conservative, is what we have come to expect these days. Business rules the world, and the only definition of political success is how well it can live your policies. We are witnessing the slow death of the mainstream left. We can only wait and see what takes it's place.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Fat Bastards Get £71 million per week from the taxpayer, not.

You've got to laugh.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Tories aim tax cuts at poor:

Lord Saatchi spinning like dervish:

"Against this background, he felt confident enough to talk up his passionate belief in the unfairness of taxing the less well-off. Stressing that he was expressing his own views, Lord Saatchi said that the 'chronic injustice' has been caused by the failure of successive chancellors to raise the tax threshold in line with average earnings, a move which would take hundreds of thousands of people out of the tax bracket by raising the threshold to £10,000.

'It is a situation this government probably quite likes. It means that people pay tax first. Then, when they are sufficiently poor, they are means-tested, found to be poor and then they can go cap in hands with a form to the government asking for benefit.'"

Well, I don't know if he's run this one by the front bench, 'cos by my reckoning this would put 1 grand into the pocket of everyone earning over £10K. Multiply that by the 20 million workforce and you get £200 billion. So, this "chronic unfairness" would be best solved by spending 200 billion quid to give those earning 10 grand or less 20 quid a week extra, along with everyone else.

Now, if you targeted that money only at those who are earning less than £10K (around 17% of the workforce according to government stats) they would get about £110 quid a week extra (I think - maths was never my strong suit). The point is, here's a tory trying to dress up general tax cuts as a gift to the poor. As if they give a shit.

Monday, February 09, 2004

The Kid is going off on one again. He is fast becoming a national treasure, he really is.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

So You Want to know About Blogs, Then? II

Part the second of my handy guide to the morass of wordage that is the political bloggieverse.

Tom Watson
The first blogging MP is the Labour member for West Bromwich East. Famous the world over for his biting wit and trenchant comments sailing so close to the wind he risks expulsion from New Labour every time he posts. His razor sharp mind has served him well in blogging jousts with such alumni as Richard Dawkins and... Cut the crap, he will never blogroll you. (ed). All right, then, I lie.
Likely to say: The teens! page is satire, 'kay?
Unlikely to say: I think Tony may be mistaken on this.
Visit: Occasionally.

Oliver Kamm
Unaccountably revered blog of the weighty kind. Rarely posts less than a thousand words and it can seem much, much more. Obsessed with the minutiae of Lib Dem economic and other policies, rivetting is not the word. Really, it's not the word, soporific is. Makes the guys over at Samizdata seem positively jaunty. His one saving grace is that he is very easy to provoke into blog wars. Deletes comments with abandon and is in turn deleted by others.
Likely to say: That was, in the technical sense (hence my reference to the petitio principii fallacy) question-begging.
Unlikely to say: One word when four will do.
Visit: At 3 am when the brandy won't lay you out.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

So You Want to know About Blogs, Then?

The Guardian's political weblog competition is likely to stimulate lots of new interest in the medium. I mean, literally scores of people nominated their favourite blog, so who knows where the explosion will end?

Anyway, as a service to those dozens of newbies out there, mixed up, puzzled and confused with the plethora of opinion in bloggo bloggo land, the Middleaged Curmudgeon has put together a handy guide to political weblogs, so you know who to read and when.

Starting with some of the nominees from the Guardian comp and in no particular order, here's the first installmant.

More medium than message here. Politics as marketing for the 21st century. If your daily vocabulary includes "meme" and "viral" then you will be well at home here.
Likely to say: At four minutes past three, turn to the person next to you and blow them a kiss, then bare your arse to George Bush.
Unlikely to say: Who gives a shit if Tony Blair has an email address?
Visit: Rarely.

Harry's Place
Leftie group blog peopled with liberal hawks, including the Indie wunderkind Johann Hari. Lively comments except when that dunderhead Durkin posts. Laboured for a time, a la Hitchens, C, under the charming delusion that Bush's War heralded a new golden age of enlightened self interest. There are signs that they are coming down to earth a little now. As is mandatory for the Left, the bitterest bile is reserved for those on the same side of the political divide.
Likely to say: Chris B, why don't you get a blog?
Unlikely to say:Pilger, as ever, got it right when he said.....
Visit: Daily.

Conservative Commentary
Exactly what you'd expect from a blog with that title and the strapline The Truth Unvarnished. Written by teenage student William Hague wannabe, you get a healthy dose of free market economics for dummies allied with it woz them sixties what ruined this country social commentary a la Hitchens, P and Melanie Philips.
Likely to say: Just as I cannot be father to a pebble, so free trade is the only trade.
Unlikely to say: Actually, I've not looked at it in quite that way before. I'd make a considered reply, but I'm off to get shitfaced at the Alkaline Trio gig.
Visit: Daily.

Libertarianism of the po-faced kind. Group blog taking their name, I'm sure you won't need reminding, although they assume you do, from the clandestine Soviet Russian press. The originals, of course, risked death and the Gulag for their art, whereas these guys only risk exposure as terminally tedious, self regarding contrarians.
Likely to say: You must cure yourselves of the terrible disease of statism.
Unlikely to say: Say what you like about tax collectors, they perform a vital role for society.
Visit: Weekly.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Libertarians Right or Right

Of all the points on the political compass, the Right Libertarian position is my favourite. My favourite, that is, in the sense that it provides the most entertainment; but also, truth be known, because I share some of the same ground.

Not a few Right Libertarians started life on the left and ended up where they are due, I suspect, to the force of logic. Because the plain fact is that Left Libertarians need to be, at best, able to believe six contradictory things before breakast, and at worst need to be positively schizophrenic to remain where they are. How can you regard individual freedom as sacrosant and think something should be done about poverty and lack of opportunity, at one and the same time? I don't know about anyone else, but it's a struggle for me, I can tell you.

No such problems abound at the South East corner of the political atlas, of course, where the only belief stronger than that of individual freedom is self belief. Am I alone in finding Right Libertarians the smuggest and furthest up their own arses in the political universe? Okay, they tend to be quite intelligent. Intelligent in the sense they possess a fair amount of logical reasoning ability, which is why they tend to punch above their weight in the bar room or the comments boxes. But come on guys, the lecturing, hectoring holier than the rest of the fucking universe doesn't half grate.

And the Right Libertarian's loudest voices tend to be considerably more Right than they are Libertarian. For instance, my child's problems with health arising from pollution are of considerably less importance than companies' rights to make money. And it is axiomatic that only governments, especially left wing, sorry, LEFT WING governments act corruptly. Business never exploits anything or anyone and when they do it's in the interests of the exploitees anyway. And if it's not, well social disapproval will soon sort it out. Or the Market, that mystical entity that would rule the universe if only reason were allowed to hold sway.

The market and social disapproval. How the eight year olds up the chimneys in Victorian England must have been grateful, knowing the market and social disapproval would eventually have led to the end of their plight. How their counterparts in the sweatshops of the Thid World must rejoice when they hear the free marketeers tell them things will get better in less than a generation. How the farmers in Kerala, using Coca Cola's toxic sludge as fertilizer while their women walk five kilometres twice a day for water because their boreholes have been emptied, must appreciate that governments should have no rights to intervene in the important task of making fizzy drinks lest the gods of the markets be thwarted. It's for their own good, you see. They were worse off before, when their fields didn't have carcinogens dug in and when they had water. They are just too ideologically prejudiced to realise how much better off they are now.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Pass the Bucket, Lord

So, was it a whitewash or was it the sober and considered verdict of one of the finest legal minds in the realm?

There's not many surprises in the reaction, although it's a bit strange seeing Jonathan Friedland and Boris Johnson on the same side of the fence.

What to make of it all? Well, Blair decided the terms of this inquiry and then upped the ante by saying he'd have to resign if Gilligan's allegations were proved to be true. Blair then offered Hoon as the sacrificial lamb and the script was supposed to be that the government and the BBC would take their raps on the knuckles with a resignation on either side and Alistair's smokescreen would have done it's job.

For reasons best known to himself, Hutton deviated from the script. Maybe he doesn't like fudges, maybe he just didn't have the bottle to go down in history as the Law Lord who brought down a government. Maybe he did a Denning. Maybe he's just too senile to have considered the evidence properly. We've all seen it, for crying out loud.

Whatever, I'm not sure the PM is best pleased with his overwhelming victory. If the lord hadn't fluffed his lines, Blair's enemies wouldn't be crying whitewash, stitch up and worse. And I don't really think he wants to go down in history as the Prime Minister who emasculated the most admired broadcasting institution in the world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Class post from Harry. And before you open the comments, take a moment to think who would be the first person to comment and what they would say. You'll be right.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

The prof ondemocracy in Iraq.

Friday, January 16, 2004

I smelt a rat, or something, when I heard on the Beeb about the man who killed someone under the influence of the sitting down and giggling weed.

The admirable Jim Fitzsimons responds.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

I've got rid of the comments for now as they seem to be down and affect loading on some systems. They won't be missed, anyway, as my reader rarely leaves any.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Thursday, January 08, 2004

When Michael Howard was appointed leader of the Conservative Party, I rather thought the fun times were over. The last two leaders were both Michael Foot type figures for me - essentially useless, but curiously endearing and certainly posing no real threat to their opponents. There is much harmless fun to be had watching political incompetence at work and both Hague and IDS provided us with a plentiful supply.

When Howard came along there was danger that the supply would dry up. Here was a man who had already been in high office and carried a reputation as a single minded conviction politician. A man to lead the Tories on their long march back to political credibility - the Conservatives' Neil Kinnock, perhaps. Maybe even John Smith, if not quite Tony Blair. In any event he wasn't supposed to be entertainingly loopy.

So it was with much delight that I read about his credo. Okay, so it's old news, by bloggie standards, but it's good old news.

What were they thinking of, those Saatchi boys, when they sat down with the remit to re-launch Transylvanias's finest's image? Well, it turns out they were thinking along the lines of "let's rework this pile of banal old bollocks and pass it off as our own."

Mind you, you have to admire Howard's chutzpah, if nothing else. When challenged with the similarities he managed to make it sound as if Rockefeller has ripped him off.

Many bloggers have had fun with this already, so I won't add to the general merriment, but there's one aspect to the story that intrigued me, and that was the Tories' conversion to the exciting world of New Media.
You can just picture the scene: the grandees are assembled while a bright young thing extolls the virtues of t'internet as a means of distributing a political message. "Viral marketing," he says, "that's what we should be looking at in the 21st century. It's cheap, it's effective and above all it appeals to today's people - the young, the tech savvy. What we do is get the Saatchis to cobble together something - it doesn't matter what, it's the medium that counts. Anyway, we seed it by emailing it to all our members and sympathisers. And here's the clever bit: they send it on to all their mates. It's called word of mouse, you see. Geddit? Word of mouse. And because it's by email and not anything to do with traditional media, it creates a buzz, see. There's a like, underground element to it. You wouldn't believe it, these things spread like wildfire. Within hours millions of people will see it. It's the politics of tomorrow."

He sits back in triumph. The grandees beam. "Capital idea, young man. Capital. Off you go and sort it out."

As the bright young thing closes the door behind him, the grandees confer some more.

"Double page spread in the Times?"

"That will do nicely."

Monday, January 05, 2004

The Kid is back on fine form at the moment. I was beginning to worry that real life had taken him over and turned him into a real student. Actually, I lie. I was rather looking forward to the time when he told us there was not enough hours in the day to blog, what with getting bladdered and shagging and watching daytime telly. But no, he has chosen to spend a goodly chunk of the New Year compiling a commentary on his worst lefties. So much spleen for one so young.

Also, his recent spell as a postie hasn't done anything for his Geographical awareness. You'll need to read the comments.