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.