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The Righteous

Sam Harris in Defense of Israel


The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.

Not a Sam Harris fan, as I dislike and mistrust militant atheists just as much as other militantly religious or anti-religious folk. Particularly when they seem to believe it’s they themselves to whom the phrase “from God’s mouth to your ear” applies.

But this piece by Mr. Harris is an op-ed that by me deserves great praise, particularly as it probably offends most of his natural audience. (Of course, I don’t agree with every word, nor every implication.) And I know why he put in all those parentheticals: It’s to try and cut off at the pass the obvious accusations with which we’re all too familiar.

Audio at source, from which the following are excerpts. The whole is a fair bit longer, and of course better integrated.

July 27, 2014

Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?

gaza

AUDIO TRANSCRIPT [Note: This is a verbatim transcript of a spoken podcast. However, I have added notes like this one to clarify controversial points.—SH]

The question I’ve now received in many forms goes something like this: Why is it that you never criticize Israel? Why is it that you never criticize Judaism? Why is it that you always take the side of the Israelis over that of the Palestinians?

I have criticized both Israel and Judaism. … I’ve kept some sense of proportion. There are something like 15 million Jews on earth at this moment; there are a hundred times as many Muslims. I’ve debated rabbis who, when I have assumed that they believe in a God that can hear our prayers, they stop me mid-sentence and say, “Why would you think that I believe in a God who can hear prayers?” So there are rabbis—conservative rabbis—who believe in a God so elastic as to exclude every concrete claim about Him—and therefore, nearly every concrete demand upon human behavior. And there are millions of Jews, literally millions among the few million who exist, for whom Judaism is very important, and yet they are atheists. They don’t believe in God at all. This is actually a position you can hold in Judaism, but it’s a total non sequitur in Islam or Christianity.

I certainly don’t support any Jewish claims to real estate based on the Bible. [Note: Read this paragraph again.]

Though I just said that I don’t think Israel should exist as a Jewish state, the justification for such a state is rather easy to find. We need look no further than the fact that the rest of the world has shown itself eager to murder the Jews at almost every opportunity. So, if there were going to be a state organized around protecting members of a single religion, it certainly should be a Jewish state.

[Note: It is worth observing, however, that Israel isn’t “Jewish” in the sense that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are “Muslim.” As my friend Jerry Coyne points out, Israel is actually less religious than the U.S., and it guarantees freedom of religion to its citizens. Israel is not a theocracy, and one could easily argue that its Jewish identity is more cultural than religious. ....]

More civilians have been killed in Gaza in the last few weeks than militants. That’s not a surprise because Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Occupying it, fighting wars in it, is guaranteed to get woman and children and other noncombatants killed. ….

Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done. [Note: I was not saying that because they are more careful than we have been at our most careless, the Israelis are above criticism. War crimes are war crimes.]

It is clear that Israel is losing the PR war and has been for years now. One of the most galling things for outside observers about the current war in Gaza is the disproportionate loss of life on the Palestinian side. This doesn’t make a lot of moral sense. Israel built bomb shelters to protect its citizens. The Palestinians built tunnels through which they could carry out terror attacks and kidnap Israelis. Should Israel be blamed for successfully protecting its population in a defensive war? I don’t think so.

there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them. The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal. … [Note: Yes, I know that not every Palestinian supports Hamas, but enough do to have brought them to power. Hamas is not a fringe group.]

The discourse in the Muslim world about Jews is utterly shocking. Not only is there Holocaust denial—there’s Holocaust denial that then asserts that we will do it for real if given the chance. The only thing more obnoxious than denying the Holocaust is to say that it should have happened; it didn’t happen, but if we get the chance, we will accomplish it. There are children’s shows that teach five-year-olds about the glories of martyrdom and about the necessity of killing Jews.

And this gets to the heart of the moral difference between Israel and her enemies. And this is something I discussed in The End of Faith. To see this moral difference, you have to ask what each side would do if they had the power to do it.

The truth is that everything you need to know about the moral imbalance between Israel and her enemies can be understood on the topic of human shields. Who uses human shields? Well, Hamas certainly does.

Consider the moral difference between using human shields and being deterred by them. That is the difference we’re talking about. The Israelis and other Western powers are deterred, however imperfectly, by the Muslim use of human shields in these conflicts, as we should be. It is morally abhorrent to kill noncombatants if you can avoid it. It’s certainly abhorrent to shoot through the bodies of children to get at your adversary. But take a moment to reflect on how contemptible this behavior is. And understand how cynical it is. The Muslims are acting on the assumption—the knowledge, in fact—that the infidels with whom they fight, the very people whom their religion does nothing but vilify, will be deterred by their use of Muslim human shields.

There are reports that Israeli soldiers have occasionally put Palestinian civilians in front of them as they’ve advanced into dangerous areas. That’s not the use of human shields we’re talking about. It’s egregious behavior. No doubt it constitutes a war crime. But Imagine the Israelis holding up their own women and children as human shields. Of course, that would be ridiculous. The Palestinians are trying to kill everyone. Killing women and children is part of the plan. Reversing the roles here produces a grotesque Monty Python skit.

If you’re going to talk about the conflict in the Middle East, you have to acknowledge this difference. I don’t think there’s any ethical disparity to be found anywhere that is more shocking or consequential than this.


The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.

Diplomacy amidst the wreckage and the rhetoric

Malaysian PM Najib on MH17

Although not a fan of Malaysian PM Najib Razak, his approach to the MH17 disaster has been more diplomatic than the angry rhetoric of both the US and the UK. Indeed I would go further and say that it demonstrates the difference between Cameron and Obama, who are simply politicking and the governments of Malaysia and the Netherlands who are attempting to recover the bodies of their citizens and understand why MH17 is spread across 8-miles of a Ukrainian war-zone.

(more…)

The War against Eastasia: Theatre: The Paranoid Style in Libertarianism

Single Acts of Tyranny proposes to tyrannize us by destroying our fondest dream, which is that hell is the creation of the Devil which takes the form of bringing to Humanity that most desirable of conditions, happiness and joy — O hell, World PEACE, happiness and joy — by denying us everything that any human being could possibly need or want. In this case, the sense of physical sweetness that sugar brings us.

Now along comes Perfesser “Nudge” Sunstein, who says, “No such thing”: It’s all the woolly-minded Paranoid Libertarians, who broadcast to us the Sirens’ wail in the form of warnings against such things as slippery-slope arguments, plus four more dreadful paranoid ploys.

On the other hand, the Comments to the articule (what an apt typo! think I’ll leave it) seem to be running rather heavily against what they see as the Prof’s muddying of the waters.

Actually, it’s my observation that as soon as you let the meaning of words (that is, their meaning in Standard English, since there does have to be a standard for interpretation somewhere or “it’s deuces wild”) — as soon as you let the meaning of words become unmoored from their core meaning in Standard English, you are deep into the territory of the Slippery Slope and worse. Mr. Whittle did a wonderful illustration of how this works, on a Trifecta a few years back. If you have a “standard” as opposed to “basic” (but still paid) membership, I think it is, you can still watch it.

But I’m O/T there. The point is that ANY argument can, in my experience, be stretched to prove anything whatsoever, if you have just the teensiest bit of imagination. And Lefties are loaded with it, as long it informs them that their plans will work so well that they should just naturally have the final say.

Go, read — including the Comments, until you get bored: there are 288 of them so far, some meaty — and be Enlightened.

PS: Acts, no offense. That first line is my idea of humor. I do like your idea of putting 5 kg. of sugar in jail, though. Maybe it work to help me lose a little around the hips. :>)

The Overhead.

The Internet c.1800s...

That was the semaphore system built by Claude Chappe in France around the time of the French Revolution. If the idea of big semaphore machines connecting a nation (indeed internationally) reminds you of the “Clacks” on Discworld then you are in the right ball-park – almost. There is a key difference which we shall come to though and it is a biggy.

Anyway, this is the size of the network…

... and its reach.

Now here is the big difference. What is the modern, electronic, internet as we know it used for? It is a chaos of chatter and (in)sanity, logic and weirdness, bank transactions, Christmas greetings, pornography, blogging, tweeting, facebook, gaming, terrorist plots and how to build a bomb or how to cook a risotto. It can be anything from an interview with One Direction or a seminar on quantum entanglement. It is humanity in toto.

The French clacks wasn’t (that is the “biggy” I mentioned) and neither could it technically be nor was intended to be. The inventor had this rather disingenuous thing to say,

“Chappe once claimed that a signal could go from Toulon to Paris – 120 stations across 475 miles – in just ten or twelve minutes. But he could not make that claim for a full message, even a relatively short one. Three signals per minute was the most that could be expected of even the fastest telegraph operator.”

In modern terms that is 1/20 bit per second (roughly – the Chappe code had a signal space of 98 symbols (2 beam positions and 7 positions each for the “arms” = 2x7x7=98) which is near enough the size of the standard 7 bit ASCII code – 128 symbols – to compare with allowing a bit of wiggle on human factors). Difference is the first common(ish) home modems worked at like 2000 bps or 40,000 times that speed. Sending a signal as simple as, “Advance at noon, reinforcements will meet on your left flank by 1pm.” would be nightmarish. And that is assuming absolute accuracy in transcription at all stations along the way. It need not be said that 2000bps is dismal. A slow ADSL line is over a thousand times faster and if BT Reach-Around has deemed fit to bother with laying fibre even ADSL on Cu is laughable. Sky (my broadband, TV and landline provider keep on trying to get BT to get us into the C21st – to no avail so far). There are always BT vans prowling and doing nowt. I’m not surprised. I used to work for BT and trying to get them to do anything to the porpoise is like assaulting Broadmoor with soft fruit. They might technically be private but they still behave like a state monopoly. Utterly complacent Bertram Blunts plus ultra.

Anyhoo, back to those old French folk. Not only was the system technically very limited (in that it was fast but with abysmal bandwidth) and therefore unsuitable for general communication but it was never intended for such use. Chappe again,

“…took it for granted that the telegraph network of which he dreamed would be a department of the state, government owned and operated. He saw it not as an instrument of knowledge or of riches, but as an instrument of power. ‘The day will come,” he wrote, ‘when the Government will be able to achieve the grandest idea we can possibly have of power, by using the telegraph system in order to spread directly, every day, every hour, and simultaneously, its influence over the whole republic.”

Chilling but not a million miles away from how our Lords and Masters see the internet. Fortunately they don’t really understand TCP/IP and all that jazz and I don’t think they understand the importance of a technology they simply don’t understand (they don’t understand much tech stuff). But they try, hence such things as the unbelievably poorly thought out violent and extreme pornography bill or assorted attempts around the globe to make pornography an “opt-in” service (for the sake of the children, naturally). And will it stop at porn? Does it ever stop? No, of course not!

Now obviously, there is a difference here – almost an inversion. The old French mechanical “clacks” was a way to govern and the modern internet is a way to keep tabs on the governed. This morning for the first time ever I used my bank card contactless (I’ve forgotten my PIN!!!). Some bugger at the NSA or GCHQ now knows what toilet paper I buy, the brand of ciggies I smoke and that I drink semi-skimmed milk. And yeah, I know they could harvest that from the chip anyway but… as a true believing physicist I find action at a distance, “spooky” ;-) That’s a quote from Einstein by the way though Newton himself was not 100% happy with gravity working like that. General Relativity is at least a locally realistic theory. It may be (usually) more mathematically complicated but Relativity makes far fewer metaphysical assumptions than did Newton. Newton has a fair few mad old dears stashed in the attic clad in their wedding dresses. But I digress…

The simple truth is that by hook or by crook any advance in comms will be seen by our Lords and Masters as a potential means of control. Whether it is owning the entire shooting match or just spying on it is a mere matter of tech to the L&M. Tech they will, thankfully, cock-up profoundly but they do try, bless ‘em.

All quotes from “The Information” by James Glieck.

On the worship of little tin gods

St. Edward of Snowden, patron saint of whistleblowers

In part this comes down to SAoT’s recent post on the death of Nelson Mandela, but mainly from an argument with Perry de Havilland over at Samizdata who appears to be so utterly blinded by the “what” of St. Edward of Snowden’s revelations that he is unable to ask the fundamental question of “why” did he do what he did.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that the truth has come out about the NSA’s activities and if Snowden honestly felt that the way he did it was the only way that it could have been done then fair enough.

The problem is I find that the way that Snowden has gone about his revelations has been distinctly dubious.

This may be just the capricious nature of fate ruining the best laid plans of mice and men, but I consider that Snowden’s deliberately outing himself on the front page of the Guardian (when he could have revealed the necessary information without doing so), to be somewhat questionable.

I am uncomfortable with the fact that he is hiding under the coat tails of a country which would probably have killed him if he had committed the same offence there (as they did with Alexander Litvinenko)

I am uncomfortable that he has potentially carried US state secrets into Russia and, if so,  potentially revealed them to their state security apparatus in return for asylum in Russia.

I am uncomfortable about the sheer volume of information that he has in his possession, which he now appears to be either releasing in dribs-and-drabs to keep himself newsworthy or alternately holding back in some vain attempt to keep out of the clutches of the US Government by blackmailing the NSA from a safe haven in Russia.

Now I am, as some of you will know, a paranoid and suspicious son-of-a-bitch by nature and so it is entirely possible that my natural scepticism is preventing me from seeing the inherent beatitude of our glorious brother Snowden who shines his light of truth into the dark corners of the world.

If the general consensus is that I am being unreasonable, I promise to make amends by wearing a tinfoil hat and sitting in the corner murmuring quietly for a week (as if! Can you imagine…? :-) )

Mozzer strikes again…

If you know The Smiths that’s quite witty.

Morrissey has attacked President Obama and the tradition of turkey-eating on Thanksgiving, in a blog post on his website entitled ‘Thankskilling’.

My sides nearly split with mirth.

Morrissey described the annual lighthearted turkey ‘pardon’ ceremony that Obama takes part in, where turkeys are saved from being slaughtered, as “embarrassingly stupid”.

Well. apart from describing Mozzer as an ageing Ted with a chronic masturbater’s complexion. Yup, the greatest export Manchester ever made… But traditions are “stupid” (aren’t they?) and traditions (pretty much by def don’t include the presidency of Barack Obama – a tradition going back to 2008 is not exactly traditional is it?) It is is silly but then so is wearing a paper crown on Christmas Day. Very silly but Mozzer, we is just trying to have fun – which appear to be something Mozzer who once wrote that real upbeat ditty, “Girlfriend in a Coma” fails to get at any level.

Otherwise I would drone endlessly about the wit and wisdom of Chairman Mao over a buggered tannoy whilst some fucker arse-vogeled a 1980s Casio keyboard to accompany. Without Johnnie Marr you are nothing. Just a (poor) voice wandering alone in the wilderness…

“Please ignore the abysmal example set by President Obama who, in the name of Thanksgiving, supports torture as 45 million birds are horrifically abused; dragged through electrified stun baths, and then have their throats slit. And President Obama laughs. Haha, so funny!”

Do I detect the voice of a left-winger betrayed?

Furthermore, “As Ingrid Newkirk from PETA points out, turkey ‘meat’ is one of ‘our nation’s top killers’, causing heart-attacks and strokes in humans due to saturated animal fats and cholesterol. And President Obama laughs.”

A very strange use of quotes around ‘meat’. Either it is or it isn’t meat. The moral discussion about eating it (or not) is not furthered by scare quotes any more than PETA’s dismal attempt to rebrand ‘fish’ as ‘sea-kittens’*. And in any case eating turkey and having a heart attack is one’s own choice. I can’t stick turkey anyway. Dry and insipid, much like chicken and roast pork.

Morrissey has long been a campaigner for animal rights, vociferously promoting a vegetarian diet – and sometimes tipping into controversy. He said that the 2011 Utoya massacre by Anders Breivik was “nothing compared to what happens in McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried shit every day.”

The news that he is now scheduled to play a Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo has upset some in Norway, given his earlier comments.

Well, the Nobel Peace Prize is not worth a penny-weight of Arafat’s giblets really but that is offensive. I am now deeply tempted to obtain a moose burger just for the hell of it!

In 2009 he left the stage at the Coachella festival saying: “The smell of burning animals is making me sick. I can smell burning flesh . . . and I hope to God it’s human.”

Would Mozzer have been happier at Auschwitz than in the vicinity of a hot-dog stand? I’ve been to both in my time. I have also been a vegetarian (sort of – I could never make a chilli that really worked) and am married to a vegan but that casual moral equivalence is appalling. Utterly wrong. It is that sort of attempt at making a KFC the same as a NAZI death camp the reason I fear for the future. That it can even be said is very scary. Killing 6 million Jews is not on the same moral map as getting a hot dog. It is indeed chilling rather than chill dog. Animals of course require our care but they are not us. Up to a point they are moral agents (my cat knows he’s done a bad thing when he pukes on the duvet) but they are not the same. Very similar in many ways but not the same. We once lost Timmy. We were moving and he fled the house due to the disruption at something like the speed of heat.**

He came back after a tense while. We spent an extra day sitting on orange boxes (so to speak) with not even the telly waiting for him. My wife was in tears – there were a number of kebab shops in Levenshulme. Then a paw scratched at the door. That night he insisted on sleeping between us in our bed. So, stick that up your arse-trumpet Mozzer. I do care for animals. And Timmy has a lovely big garden to prowl and get into fights with other cats who invade his territory. He also eats meat for a certain value of meat. He only likes the cheapest stuff in terms of pouches. He’ll go insane if I have fish. I once got some smoked mackerel from Aldi (and very good it was too) and had to exfiltrate the kitty from the bin for he’d gone in head first after the skin. I was alerted by a terrible mewling and the sight of a tail. Daft bugger.

“Bring me the head of Elton John… which is one instance in which meat would not be murder, if it were served on a plate.”

Now, I’m no fan of the Rocketman but might it be apposite to say he’s sold more records than Mozzer? That he isn’t a total twat? And perhaps more to the point, whilst I might want to eat a nice sirloin, Mozzer wants, for whatever obscure reasons (mentioned above) to eat Elton John’s head which is a bit too Heston for me? You’d have to get through the rug first apart from anything else. But you do have to wonder if John’s success over decades in the pop business doesn’t irk the Salford One? Or the fact his HIV/AIDS charity has done more good than Mozzer’s sanctimonious posing? I mean I was never a Smiths fan (and the solo stuff is drivel) but to the extent the Smiths were good was down to Johnnie Marr and not the gladioli-wielding bard of Salford.

At a moral point why is it not allowed to eat critters but OK with people you don’t like? All totalitarianism (and Morrissey is a totalitarian – well, a wannabe one anyway) is about this.

Morrissey is a sort of eternal recurrence of DH Lawrence. The sort of quasi-socialist who hates the “little people” who don’t get him. Lawrence once wrote (and this was published, I think) about how he wanted to set-up a circus big-top and have the lumpen proletariat shoved through to be exterminated to the sound of a band playing popular songs. Yes, he did. I lack refs for it but yes, he did. Is this much different from Mozzer? No it isn’t.

They are both utterly overrated. Check!

They both have chips on their shoulder you could sink battleships with. Check!

They both despise the people they allegedly seek to help. Check!

So that’s that. The quotes are from here.

*An odd one as my little cat loves to eat his sea-kittens. More interestingly, if I have a sea-kitten then we have a Rommel v Patton situation. He’ll lurk then strike but then I am smarter being H sapiens sapiens and he’s Felis silvestris catus. He made an elaborate encircling manoeuvre round the back of the sofa last night whilst I was eating pizza.
**USAF fighter-jockey slang for anything between the speed of sound and that of light.

Greenwald and Canada?

The headline speaks for itself. –Speaking of Leaking, Var. Newspaperiensis, did you-all know Mr. Bernstein (of Watergate, Woodward-&-Bernstein fame) was also a red-diaper baby?

Glenn Greenwald’s Next Spy Leak Target: Canada

Politics in it’s old hat.

This started as a reply to Sam’s comment here.

Sam, you have a point. The older I get the more I realise that politically we are regressing to a bastardized-Victoriana that never really existed. How else would the largest ever proposed engineering project in British history be a railway that George and Robert Stephenson could envisage – literally – it’s George’s gauge metal rails of course. It’s also 50 billion quid jizzed up the wall

It was cutting edge when George and son were building the Rocket but that was nigh on 200 years from an MP idling on the track and getting mown-down by the Rocket to the first paying passenger getting on the “new” HS2. What happened to the Fairey Rotodyne? Political pignorance and bastarding fuckwittery is what happened. There were concerns over noise (Fairey had got it down to the sound of a tube train). The fact the US military wanted loads of ‘em was irrelevant. The fact there was significant commercial interest in a high-speed city to city VTOL aircraft matter nothing if it scared the horses. Literally. The Bellendius Maximus who first championed HS2 was (and is) Lord Adonis. Yes, it does sound like he should be a porn-star. Lord Andrew [which means "manly" BTW] Adonis looks like this…

What mental image do you have of a Lord Adonis? A sort of demi-god who traded blows with Hektor of Troy? Or that piss-poor wankenshaft? He wrote a scholarly history of the poll-tax.

Short version. I did more against that. I simply didn’t pay. Not because I objected nor because I knew it was wrong as such but because I knew I could get the feck away with it and those quids in my pocket were worth more to me than being in the pockets of the cuntcil. At the time, there was, as ever a C19th (perceived as) idea that the community charge was either right or wrong. I just didn’t want to pay. Yes, I was shellfish. I was the full lobster.

So I didn’t pay and they never got me. So, what’s my point? Well, possibly it is Ike’s about “guided missiles but unguided men”. No politricks this last fifty years has moved much beyond WWI. Anywhere.

Look at the lavish expense of HS2 and compare with the dismal spending on Skylon? The first is a C19th solution to a C21st problem and the second is an SSTO aerospace plane that would result in Bristol Filton being re-monikered “Bristol International Spaceport”. Now if that isn’t cooler than making the trip from London to Birmingham 15 minutes shorter I despair. I have been to Birmingham. It’s OK but space!

It is the chronic lack of imagination that gets me about politricks.

And put it this way… 50 billion quid in you or my pocket is much more likely to get us to Mars than any ammount in the poche of the taxman. And that will only get you to Brum.

Which is like OK and all but seriously nothing to write home about.

Birmingham – it’s OK I guess.

Trogger*

The Daily Wail is up in sanctimonious arms about a “notorious internet troll” they have exposed.  Why is the Wail’s blood up?  Because uncompromising blogger Old Holborn verbally slaughtered a couple of sacred cows that no one dare tell bad taste jokes about.  And it caused the twatterati to descend into a frenzied virtual lynch party.

This is the face of one of Britain’s most notorious internet trolls.

As his alter ego Old Holborn, Robert Ambridge is responsible for a series of vile and offensive Twitter posts that have brought him death threats.

Apparently death threats are not as vile and offensive as taking the micturation out of a taboo subject.

Thousands were outraged when Ambridge, who appears on his Twitter page with his identity disguised by a plastic pig mask, tweeted about the Hillsborough Stadium disaster. He posted a picture of two overweight women and claimed ‘this is what crushed the 96’.

Whereas the millions who have never heard of OH and are too busy having a life to tweet probably couldn’t give a stuff.

Moral outrage.  The most persistent bane of our post normal society.  A dangerous threat to free speech.  Is OH offensive?  I’d say yes, having read his blog on and off over the years.  Sometimes I agree with what he says and on other occasions I think he’s a git.  I wouldn’t issue a death threat to shut him up though no matter how offensive his remarks.  Nor would I be insisting that “something must be done” to silence him.  If he wants to be a git making gittish remarks designed to annoy authoritarian gits then that’s his prerogative.

Ambridge, 51, a recruitment consultant and father of six from Braintree, Essex, also made disgusting comments about the murder of James Bulger which deeply upset his mother. But an unrepentant Ambridge claims people who are offended by his comments have only themselves to blame.

Yes, being offended on the behalf of someone you’ve never met has become a full time sport for the perpetually affronted brigade.  My reaction?  OH is being a controversial git gleefully poking what he knows is going to be a hornets nest to provoke a reaction.  The adult thing to do, if you are offended by him, is ignore him, not give him the oxygen of publicity.  But it seems we are not dealing with adults and that includes the journalists and the police.

‘It is not my responsibility what other people find upsetting. I didn’t target anyone. I didn’t send an email. They chose to read what I wrote. If they don’t like it, they should turn it off. I don’t care what people find offensive.’

Because making crass remarks might be offensive to those prone to outrageous bouts of herd apoplexy but it is not an offence in law.   It certainly isn’t a hound ‘em and flog ‘em out of gainful employment offence.  Oh wait, yes it is.  People have the right not to be offended.  By anyone or anything.  Anywhere or at any time.  And the authorities will be there to mollycoddle wounded feelings and take names.  All in the name of social inclusivity and clamping down on naughtiness to make the world a better place for everyone who is happy being a touchy-feely herdthink drone.

Justifying his tweet about Hillsborough, he added: ‘This is dark humour. People might not like my humour but I think it is funny and it gets a chuckle.’

So where is all the outrage about taking the mickey out of fat people?  Don’t they deserve to be treated with sensitivity?  Well no, because it is socially acceptable to believe that all fat people are greedy and stupid and deserve all the derision they get even when they don’t. Unlike Merseyside’s tragically deceased they aren’t a protected species when it comes to verbal abuse or offensive jokes.  Either everyone is a target or none at all.  I’ll settle for everyone because none at all is a tyranny.

This week, the self-proclaimed ‘satirical terrorist’ will seek to justify his vitriolic internet posts in an ITV documentary called Fear And Loathing Online.

Well yes, OH can be quite loathsome when he puts his mind to it.  However the only fear in this particular Wail story comes from the death threats of the morally outraged.  OH hasn’t actually threatened anyone, merely piddled them off.  Not the same thing.  So how come he’s the only pariah in town right now?  Have the thousands of column inches dedicated to our not bombing Assad being wrong, wrong wrong, finally run out of steam?

Ambridge agreed to be filmed without his pig mask, although his face was not shown. But The Mail on  Sunday traced Ambridge to his dilapidated Victorian home in Braintree.

Matthew Hopkins journalism at its most odious.  I’ll assume that howling mobs, pitchforks and flaming torches were optional extras not available on expenses.

With an appearance more akin to Coronation Street’s hapless cafe owner Roy Cropper than a cutting-edge satirist, he initially denied he was Old Holborn.

So what is a “cutting-edge satirist” supposed to look like?  And who wrote the benchmark specifications for the physical appearance of one?  Fatuous journalism at its most infantile.

But later, speaking at the wheel of his battered Toyota vehicle, gap-toothed Ambridge said: ‘I am there to upset the apple cart. It is a form of entertainment. Trolling is like putting a fishing line in a shoal of fish and seeing what you can get.’

I can see a pattern building here.  It’s not just OH’s opinions that are low rent.  His dilapidated house, battered Toyota and crooked teeth are proof that the Wail is dealing with a lowlife scumbag who needs to be put in his place – six feet under if the Twatter mob get’s its way.  He hasn’t broken the law.  The fact that he’s overweight, white and middle aged isn’t a criminal offense although the Wail is trying to build a case on those shifting sands of stupidity.  He has six children.  So what?  I am led to believe he has worked hard to bring them up instead of relying on the state to do it.  That isn’t a crime either.

Ambridge worked for Alchemy Recruitment in Braintree until April, when he was first outed as a notorious online troll. Following his Hillsborough comments, people bombarded the firm with phone calls and threatened to burn down its offices.

OH is a blogger who stirs the smelly stuff with a big spoon and then muses upon the fruits of the fall-out.  He’s certainly not everyone’s cup of cha.  Internet trolls lead the unsuspecting into an ambush which isn’t OH’s modus operandi at all.  But then, given the inferior, poorly informed and lacking a shred of research dross that passes for journalism these days, I suppose the confusion is understandable.  After all the newfangled  blogging media has only been around for a decade and a half – give or take.  Not enough time for the legacy media to catch up.

However, the ancient practice of witch-hunting is alive and well in the twenty-first century.  Anyone associated with someone possessed of free speech a penchant for controversy an aversion to political correctness the Devil’s evil forked tongue and tail is fair game and must be purged for the good of society. Don’t you just love this popular resurgence of a deeply unsavoury hysterical historical custom?

An investigation was launched by Essex Police over tweets relating to the Boston bombing, as well as the Hillsborough disaster and the Bulger murder. Ambridge has since left the company.

So are they going to investigate everyone who believes OH is entitled to his opinion no matter what sacred cow he’s tipped?  Are they also going to investigate the death threat tweets and emails he and his former employer received?  If not, why not?  Or is it now legal and acceptable to put someone in fear of their life for upsetting the herd or because they employ someone who has?

Police said the CPS is considering whether to pursue a case of criminal communication through social media involving a 51-year-old man from Braintree.

Clearly there is a certain demographic that never found its way out of the infants playground.  It is not the job of the police to nurse bruised sensitivities and pander to the chronically indignant.  Their job is to investigate, arrest and charge actual criminals, not harass people who upset the mores of self-indulgent, social puritans. So OH caused offense with his crass and very black humour.  So what.  It’s not like he was caught red-handed molesting kiddies, drowning kittens or mugging old ladies for their bingo money.

I was disgusted by the people who happy-danced at a certain old lady’s funeral a few months back.  But they were entitled to do that. I was content to mutter “gits” at the TV screen.  I certainly wasn’t motivated to hunt them down and send them death threats on behalf of the bereaved family.  Nor do I expect the police to “investigate” the matter as a possible “hate” crime.  Yes there was hate.  A lot of it.  But was it a crime?  Hardly.

 

*  It seems the Wail doesn’t know the difference between a controversial, politically incorrect blogger and a troll, notorious or otherwise.  Hence, Trogger.

Napolean Blairnoparte

He’ll fight anyone for a quid.

Tony Blair has called on the west to stop “wringing our hands” as he endorsed intervention against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and warned governments against ostracising the military dictatorship in Egypt.

Shouldn’t The Blairster be gardening or enjoying a round of golf with Jacklin Straw or something and keeping the eff out.

In his first intervention since the chemical weapons attack last week, the former prime minister said the west should not be neutral in protecting Syrians from the Assad regime and “affiliates of al-Qaida” seeking to exploit the instability.

Blair made his remarks in a Times article in which he said the west should acknowledge the threats in Syria and Egypt. 

Why? So Blair can bestride the World like a colostomy bag? Again.

He wrote: “Western policy is at a crossroads: commentary or action; shaping events or reacting to them. After the long and painful campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, I understand every impulse to stay clear of the turmoil, to watch but not to intervene, to ratchet up language but not to engage in the hard, even harsh business of changing reality on the ground. But we have collectively to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work.”

He is utterly incorrigible. The last time Tony put “hands to work” thousands died and many more were maimed and the current result is the creation of two more Islamic Republics and absolute chaos and ongoing slaughter. I mean if you’d been instrumental in two horrendous car crashes in short order you need a face of brass to apply to subsequently apply for a job as a taxi driver in the same manor? The tonemeister though doesn’t have a face of brass. He has one of diamond.

“I hear people talking as if there was nothing we could do: the Syrian defence systems are too powerful, the issues too complex and, in any event, why take sides since they’re all as bad as each other?” he wrote. “It is time we took a side: the side of the people who want what we want; who see our societies for all their faults as something to admire; who know that they should not be faced with a choice between tyranny and theocracy.”

Unfortunately, that would appear to be the non-choice. If His High Tonyness can actually explain precisely what the difference between theocracy and tyranny is then maybe doing something might be in order but it seems to me (this is a general point) that if you are going to be actively involved in a war you need to choose a side otherwise you are going in against everyone: Assad, the military, Sunni, Shia, whatever. We did that in Iraq and that worked out terrific did it not? Look, it might be unpalatable  but if two sides  are “as bad as each other” then surely the only sensible option is to stay out of it. Well, militarily at least. Perhaps helping out Turkey, Jordan and Iraq* with the huge numbers of refugees but Blair getting his missile aimin’ finger ready by proxy is not the way. That way madness lies. We’d have to ally with some nasty pieces of work either way or, as Blair seems to imply make ourselves the cheese and the pickle sandwiched between one form of tyranny and another. You can’t force people to be “free” at gun-point, Mr Blair. Heaven knows mind (and I hope St. Peter is taking notes) he tried both here and abroad. Dismally.

Blair, who was close to the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, also warns it would be a grave strategic error to ostracise the government that has overthrown former president Mohammed Morsi.

Hold on! I thought Blair wanted an er… third way between Islamist nutjobbery and Nationalistic/Militaristic tyranny for Syria? So why is Egypt different? Also isn’t Blair one of those true Beliebers in the idea that the Great God Democracy is the be all and end-all of freedom and all the flowers coming-up pretty and every day being the first day of spring and all that jazz? Call me an old git and all but democracy only works on a substrate of the rule of law and general decency within a society. Hosni Mubarak was and is not a decent man. But he was mates with The Tonemeister so that’s OK for his old army pals to toss aside the democracy Blair so idolizes. I mean Morsi and his minions ( let us not forget that the Muslim Brotherhood is very much the “intellectual” foundation of Al Queda and all the rest of Sonny (if not precisely Cher) Islamic nutjobbery). Blair here is guilty of the sort of Realpolitik that would have had Bismarck blushing. Bismarck at least could be cunning about it. Blair is blatent in a way that could take the breath of a sperm whale surfacing after a long squid-hunt.

He wrote: “You can rightly criticise actions or overreactions of the new military government but it is quite hard to criticise the intervention that brought it into being … We should support the new government in stabilising the country, urge everyone, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to get off the streets, and let a proper and short process to an election be put in place with independent observers.”

“Stabilising the country”! I recently spoke to Paul Marks on the subject of Egypt. I said basically I’d always wanted to go and see the old stuff there. He reckoned all Hell would reign for decades (cheers Paul!) and moreover I reluctantly had to agree. That’s how stable Egypt is. A place within easy flying time with cool things to see like pyramids and coral reefs and a trip down the Nile on a flash boat with an intriguing murder solved by a dapper Belgian… But nah… Ain’t going to happen is it? The only place in the Near or Middle East I can even conceive of going in any realistic time-scale is Israel. Well, there’s lots to see and do there I guess. I guess the Gulf States are OK (ish) but if I’m expected to pay top dollar for Sharia Disneyland in the UAE then they can bugger off. Even Turkey is looking dicey unless they kick Erdogan into the long grass soonish. And I really liked Turkey when I was there a couple of years back. It’s a tragedy I tells ya! A whole slew of countries and hundreds of millions of people caught between the Scylla and Charybdis of militant nationalism (or Arab socialism or whatever the feck they call it these days) and Islamic craziness.

An aside. In a sense, a very poor sense, I didn’t get much of a view, I have been to Egypt and Israel already. But in utereo doesn’t really count! I mean the view isn’t there is it? I was born in 1973 (my parents visited both countries on their way back from a teaching stint in Zambia in the year of the Yom Kippur War. It was a few weeks before the shi’ite hit the turbofan but I’m not chancing it again!  The minute my parents hit Egyptian airspace they got a MiG escort and their hotel had AAA on the roof. To enter Israel from Egypt they had to dog-leg via Cyprus. For fuck’s sake! That’s like me going to France via Denmark. Anyhow I was safely delivered in Newcastle on the 5th of September 1973. The Yom Kippur War kicked-off on the 6th of October. I reckon I’m down one already on squeaking through all manner of goat-fuckery, chaos and slaughter erupting for no apparent reason. Well, for obvious reasons. Generalissimos who take their style tips from Mussolini or deranged religious fanatics who think a couple holding hands in the street is a sin but are OK with firing rockets at a primary school.

Blair acknowledged that people were acting cautiously after the Iraqi intervention. He wrote: “In this struggle, we should not be neutral. From the threat of the Iranian regime to the pulverising of Syria to the pains of the Egyptian revolution, from Libya to Tunisia, in Africa, central Asia and the far east, wherever this extremism is destroying the lives of innocent people, we should be at their side and on it.

Two small points: the first is Blair is spreading his net astonishingly geographically wide.

I should say though first, bolded, sentence was fucking priceless but I won’t because the rest is the Holy Grail wrapped in the Shroud of Turin and encased in the Ark of the Covenant alongside the Spear of Destiny. It is verging on the unfiskable. Who’s side exactly Tony? if we are not to be neutral? Really, if this is a clash between Islamists and seamingly “pro-western”* militaristic nationalists then how do we honestly take sides. Who’s side are we on? I suspect Blair thinks (at some level – like a daddy long legs banging at the window again and again) that everyone wants the sane and rational World he believes he represents and that reasonableness can be imposed because he believes this is innate to humanity and he’s a “humanitarian kinda guy” and everyone would be like him if they only had the chance which follows in the wake of a great, nay Churchillian*, unloading of JDAMs and 20 mike mike down-range… Well this is Bolockio the Clown on more layers than the Burj Khalifa. It is the myth that everyone  wants good and civilized things – that that is their state of nature. Well, many do. Many want the opposite for all sorts of reasons. And of course we all disagree on what is “good”. I am not Jewish, Muslim, Vegetarian or whatever but I can’t stand pork (bacon and ham and stuff I’m fine with) so that is where I stand on that. Now if anyone reading this is thinking, “Hey, but I had a lovely bit of pork recently!” then fine. Cool. Similarly I don’t eat prawns (the bugs of the seas). That is just Nick. But I don’t want those who violate my  dietary rules to be stoned or hung or whatever. In a counter-intuitive sense (perhaps) the greatest statement of individuality is not to care about what other people like because the genuinely natural corollary of that is that they can’t tell you what you want. Or rather what you should want.

The Blairite agenda here is precisely the idea of deciding not just what is good for people but an imposition of will and  this based upon a very deep assumption that fundamentally everyone is like him deep down and therefore wants what he wants. Or should do. It’s an old, old story. Rouseau believed in “forcing people to be ‘free’”. Of course this was for whatever value of “free” Rouseau believed in. Or Blair. Or Khomeini, or Monbiot, or whoever. You just cannot force people to be free. To be fair to Rouseau I think he knew he was taking ze piss. I don’t think that about Blair. He believes. That his beliefs wander like a Markov process between ill-starred paternalism and wishful-thinking is no matter. It’s the genius delusion. It goes like this. If he believes he is a genius (and he does – in the original sense) then he must be right however stupid, barking-mad, self contradictory (getting involved in a civil-war without taking sides – very “third way”), unpopular, deranged, irrelevant or solipsistic the actual scheme is. Or, let’s sum-up the last 1896 words shall we?  Blair believes with a clinched and absolute certainty that he is right and that he is good and that all it would take for everything to be OK and fair and democratic and decent and nice and the Lion would safely kip with the lamb and the planet would look like a ton of Duplo in a play-pen and all that is for him to impose that by force. He is utterly deluded. Freedom, decency, everything that matters comes from down-below.  Sorry Tony but it’s me sticking a 50p piece in a pot for “Help for Heroes” and not you putting them in the way of harm in the first place in the name of some deranged dream of democracy as a panacea (when you deem it convenient, natch) in some shit-hole (and Afghanistan is a spherical crapulation beyond measure – well, maybe Somalia pips it) where we don’t have any palpable interest.

I am astonished that in this day and age, years since he left power Blair still has the capacity to astonish with his shark-jumps. It is stunning. They broke the mould when they made Blair.

At least I hope so.

 

 

* Or should that be Chinchillian? I dunno. the chinchilla is a cute critter and Blair is a deranged fantasist.

Killing the Good Samaritan

Wendy McElroy is a long-time activist within the American libertarian community. Her piece here uses the example of an innocent young man accused of stalking to make her point and to particularize it to the dangers of being found living while male, or indeed while being a member of any number of suspect “classes.”

But the principle applies much more broadly, to the fact that private snooping, spying, and snitching to The Authorities seem to be more and more common in our U.S. society at least. This kind of thing can destroy a person: his bank account, his job or career, his family relationships, his friendships, his reputation, his very sense of himself…. And some of these people are so eager to find fault and, in some cases, to just plain make trouble, that they will not take the simplest, safest steps to see if there are valid grounds for their suspicion.

Herewith what I consider the meat of the article. (The boldface is mine.)  Better yet, read the whole thing (kidney basin in hand) at

http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2003/1021.html

Killing the Good Samaritan

October 21, 2003
by Wendy McElroy, mac@ifeminists.net

The incident reflects how paranoid our culture has becomeafter decades of political correctness that defines and divides us into categories eternally at war: female against male, whites against minorities, heterosexual against gay.

I was once asked to describe the devil. (I interpreted the question to be about the general nature of evil in man rather than about religion.)

I replied: If the devil is the living flesh of evil, then here is who I think he is. …[H]e is the average-looking person who walks into a room and shakes your hand with a smile. By the time he leaves, the standards of decency of everyone within that room have been lowered ever so slightly.

Perhaps he offers general statistics on divorce or child abuse to convince you to suspect your husband of infidelity or your neighbor of molestation. No evidence of specific wrongdoing is offered, of course. But since such “crimes” do occur, you are advised to be vigilantly on guard against them in your personal life. And so, you begin to view your spouse and neighbors with a bit more suspicion, a little less trust and with the tendency to interpret every action as possible evidence of wrongdoing. The very possibility of an offense is taken as evidence of its presence.

…[Y]our co-worker is no longer an individual….

Slowly, you come to view the world through the eyes of the devil. People are guilty until proven innocent. Acts of kindness and common decency are meticulously dissected for hidden motives and agendas. People are not individuals but categories. Those closest to you — family, friends and neighbors — do not receive the benefit of the doubt; they receive the “benefit” of your suspicion.

With no religious implication, I say: a devil is at large. He tells us that acts of kindness and common decency do not exist; the worst possible interpretation should be placed on acts that appear to embody those values….

In short, the Devil is the one who is selling us on the evil of others.

Maggie

I was born in 1973 so Margaret Thatcher was PM for my formaive years.

I very vaguely recall “Sunny Jim” and have no recollection of that fat treachorous oaf Ted Heath or of that deranged buffoon Harold “bloody” Wilson. He thought MI5 were gonna kill him. If only…

So she was my PM. In eleven years you can do much good and much bad and a heck of a lot that is just expedient. She of course did all three but overall she was more on the side of the angels. I am not going to eulogise her here because that has been done both here and elsewhere.

Instead I shall make some random points about my experience as a kid under Maggie. And about the BBC coverage of her death.

When she took over it, Britain was on it’s arse wearing trousers you could x-ray with a petrol station flash-light. Something I don’t remember but experienced was my Mum and me (I was in a pushchair) shopping in Newcastle’s great department store, Fenwicks by candle-light. In Newcastle, in the 1970s. Jesus Christ! Try telling that one to the youth of today. The trash wasn’t collected, the dead weren’t buried and it was kinda like Mogadishu with a worse climate.

Like it or not something had to change. Otherwise I’d be eating dung.

Previous commentators on stuff here about MaggieT (that’s her blog-name that is) have said basically “Know someone by their enemies”. So true.

But also know them by their friends.

Now I’m not sure how conservative I am. I am not sure how patriotic I am. I’m British for fuck’s sake! I don’t need to be patriotic. Being patriotic would be an indulgence. As Margot from “The Good Life” (the character was based on Thatcher) might have said, “Enough with these Latinate histrionics!”. Do I need to explain British achievements? Nah, didn’t think so. The Argentine Emisary is not cracking out the Ferroro-Roche for the funeral. He or she shall be sadly missed.

No, I’m not celebrating Britishness (though we have much to celebrate) but Maggie was British to the core and it came as no surprise that at her funeral this will be played:

watch?v=7MG27BKwjaI

But her reign meant so much more to me. It meant colour TV, a microwave and a ZX-Spectrum. It meant things moving out of the horror-show of the ’70s. The era of Thatcher and Ronnie meant a scantily clad nymph capering about the fore-deck of a Panamax* battleship** and straddling a 16″ gun and leaving very little to the imagination of me, you and hundreds of sailors. We weren’t gonna lose the Cold War after that!

And the movies were so good and up-beat! It was a different world to now. It was a world of immense leaders and great fun and a massive hope for the future. The future was not feared. Think of the movies of the time! They didn’t play Les Buggeurs Risible about ersatz “moral ambiguity”. No, they said life was good and getting better.

The past was another country. It was better and that was Maggie’s country. And Ronnie’s country.

I wish I could turn back time.

In some ways.

I certainly don’t want a full-scale Cher comeback!

*The Iowa class fast-battleship was built with 18″ clearance for the Panama Canal. Now you might think parking at Tesco is tricky in a Ford Focus but…
**The USS Missouri. Interestingly enough the warship upon which the Japanese signed their surrender in 1945.

Lord Melvin of the Bouffant

A couple of nights ago Our Beloved Lord of the BBC Round Buffet Table (of the Free Drinkies and Nibbles), Lord Melvin of the Laboratoire Garnier (because he isn’t worth it) was asked about the “bedroom tax” on the early evening “entertainment” creature called “The One Show” on the BBC and he wrinkled his erudite brow – for he is an intellectual* unlike you or me.

Oh, he was upset. He believed that the government ought to stay out of people’s homes (unless it is to build HS2 which means he gets to his “Beloved Lake District” ever so slightly quicker whilst fantasising about shagging a young Dervla Kirwan** along the way.

Melvin Bragg was upset…

smallest-violin

Housing benefit is an unholy mess of course but this is not the time to go into that viper’s nest which reflects on the British obsession with the ownership of domestic property*** and many other things. But, a reduction in a benefit is never a tax. It may be a bad thing but call it what it is – a reduction in benefits, not a tax. It reminds me of a Green a while back talking of a government “subsidy” to airlines on fuel. What he meant was not that aviation kerosine was actually subsidised as such (it isn’t) but that it wasn’t taxed. Now why might that be? Now you can’t hop into your Ford Focus and fill ‘er up in France that easily but a 737… That is the whole point of flying – to make geography history. If only our finkers and tinkers (and tinkerers) could get up to speed on stuff like that. I mean maybe they need nearly 110 years of controllable, fixed wing aviation to get it… Oh, wait! Been done hasn’t it? Anyway, to conflate tax and benefits like this is a tacit belief in the “pocket-money nation” in which all monies really belong to the state apart from the “allowances” which are “given” to spend off our own bats (and obviously to spend as is seen fit in order to desperately try and re-inflate an insane consumer bubble economy – or else). It must be so nice for the proles to have a coupla quid on the hip. It’s like “voluntary” NICO contributions for the self-employed. “Voluntary” in this context really doesn’t fit with what it says in my wife’s OED or my Websters. Aren’t those two tomes suppossed to be the ultimate repository of the English Language? Try telling that to some fucker kicking your door in at 4am.

At a deeper level the minute you allow government to interfere with housing market then Lord Bragg, The Quiff Pursuivant then you are allowing them into people’s homes. Obviously.

Or maybe he’s just too busy wanking himself into a coma over fantastic dalliances with pretty girls a third (at best) his age in a field with commanding views of Derwent Water. Fine enough I guess (if a bit pathetic) on his own shilling. Anyway I digress…

(Sorry, thinking of Ms Kirwan, again – who is BTW two years older than me. Well fit in that train-wreck of a Dr Who Christmas Special a bit back. Good stuff which failed to gel.)

Anyway, the main point. Lord Bragg of Hair Product (you could launch a Harrier Jet (if we still had ‘em) off his cranial dead wombat) said he (he looked like he was about to weep the tears of the crocodile into his last freebee canape – I mean that bad – poor soul – how he has suffered!)…

I mean he Ronald Pickup (seriously!) couldn’t even afford a spare room for his inamorata and had to “do it” on a hill-side. That was the excorable “A Time to Dance” where Mr Pickup stood in for the Braggster in the role of “Randy Old Git #1″.

Enough Nick!

Anyway, the deeply intellectual Lord Bragg of “Presenting a show on ITV that nobody watches but means ITV can claim to do the Arts” was “viscerally” upset by this policy decision. He then apologised and said what he meant was he, “Felt it in his gut”.

Because us peasantry – presumably including the folk on housing bennies – wouldn’t understand “visceral”. Now I may have gone to an ever so ‘umble (fuck that!) Comp in Gateshead but fuck you Lord Bragg and the cunting unicorn you rode down from your cloud on. What really got me is that he wasn’t prompted but autonomously and automatically felt the need to apologise for using a “difficult” word becuse he is so clever and those he (literally) Lords it over are, to him, not. It was the assumption that made me want to forget my education and resort to the demotic (that’s classical too!) Anglo-Saxon and see visions of blood-cured battle-axes and flaming brands and other things too dreadful to state.

Make no mistake. From Prince Charles to Lord Bragg they think of us as pets at best. The simple fact that Lord Bragg of Twatbuggery felt he couldn’t use the word “visceral” to the plebs says it all. He’s not used to BBC1 – bless. Perhaps he ought to be put out to grass on a reservation on BBC4 with Jonathon Miller****.

Seriously though it is like something from Plato. These are the “Children of Gold” (not that they are looking that young mind) who love the poor just as long as they don’t have to stand too close to ‘em. Abject poverty to them means flying business class. We are their play things. I had Lego as a kid and bricks don’t mind if they get turned into a space-ship or an oil platform or a land dreadnought or whatever. I have rendered things in lego and clay and paint and code and all the rest. Never people. The arrogance is stunning. I’d go so far as to suggest that they only get away with it because it is so stunning you don’t notice it in exactly the same way you affect not to notice a naked 7′ Zulu warrior with an asagai and a 12″ semi on your commuter train of the morning. He might also have some beads mind and one of the deluded middle-aged ladies might ask if they were Fairtrade because her niece’s birthday was coming-up…

She’d be trying hard not to look at the cock mind.

And failing.

Most fun she’d never had since she didn’t inhale a Clinton during the Vietnam War.

Do anything you want, Mel & Chums, but don’t patronise me or I might liberate some artifacts from Prague Castle and then Your Lordship you might discover a true “gut-feeling” of what “visceral” really means.

PS. This is exactly the same bollocks that keeps alive the idea that Shakespeare couldn’t possibly have written Shakespeare because William was a grammer-school boy from the relative sticks. It must surely have been an aristo and not some young lad charging a groat to stand in the “shouty end” with a flagon of ale and a dubious pie to hurl at the cast if they fluff their lines. The greatest dramas of all time were staged without an Arts Council grant – get over it. Or get a pie in the mush!

*Or given the barnet he looks like an “ageing Ted with a masturbator’s pallor”. I owe that phrase to Mr Smarting Anus who also “Wanks Higher than any in Wome” and is usually more full of shi’ite than a mosque in Qom.
**BBC – A Time to Dance. If that wasn’t taken straight from the Braggadocio’s self-abuse notes then call me a Belgian.
***A massive issue. Forgive me for skirting this here because I’m in danger of “Old toffees blogging”. You know what toffee is like after it has been left out for a couple of days? You pick one up and the rest comes along with it…
****I have a cruel and unusual punishment for Miller. He must speak for a full two minutes without using the word “paradox”. If he manages that then Matron will give him his Horlicks and not spank his botty. Though he’d probs like that. Depending on the Matron so might I but not Horlicks! I mean if it was Kylie, say…

In a hole in the ground…

…there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats-the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill-The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it-and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.

- JRRT, “The Hobbit”.

Sounds OK. I mean apart from the Sky dish and broadband that’s nicer than my gaff – and I like my gaff. So… What is the Mainly Fail on about with Mrs Bilbo. She looks a sight and lives like a scumbag in a way that annoys me (because she thinks herself “righteous”). We clearly all can’t – all 62 million of us Brits can’t afford to live like that – even if we wanted to! I mean I live in a house first built c.1600 but it ain’t Hobbiton (it’s on the outskirts of Manchester which was one of the places modernity was invented). More to the point why consider that living in a mud-hut can be compared to Bilbo’s gaff? Shifty Failish churnalism – again. Yet again.

Soon enough I shall wire-up the TV (downstairs) to the router (upstairs) for internet TV. This will involve an electric drill and language that would put Viz to shame. As I said, it’s c.1600 and I’m c.1973 so God knows what you drill into. Or what ineffable Geordisms may occur. I am no longer taking monies on the frequent use of “buggerated piss-flappery”.

Bilbo lived the most comfortable life imaginable (without electricity) (I can’t imagine life before Nikola Tesla stole lightning from Al Gore* or whomever because Tesla was a nasty man and made us modern.)

Admittedly I don’t have wizards and dwarves coming round with offers of quests. The lack thereof is a bit of a downer about living in the C21st. I would give up my comfort in an instant mind and dash out of my gaff, without a handkerchief, on an adventure (it’s my “Tookish” part). But whilst part of me would love to go into Wilderland with an Elvish blade in the company of dwarves I am still in Bag End. Hell’s teeth I want to be in the first Éored storming the fields of Pelennor. But it ain’t going to happen.

I am up for offers for anything utterly outrageous even if it means missing second breakfast. Usually that means somebody has a buggered Dell which can be fun but it’s not exactly dragon-slaying is it?

It is though civilization and not some sort of (quasi-sexual/quasi-religious?) kick about daubing the walls with horse shit. Because you see I am a Geordie and that means engineering and making life easier and more pleasant. But not just Geordies. Oh, no! Lots of other folk got into engines and abandoned the cute life – look at the “Good Life” – would the Goods have survived without continual help from Margo and Jerry? It is only slags like Drew Barrymore

Barrymore: I took a poo in the woods hunched over like an animal … awesome.
Diaz: (laughing) I’m so jealous right now. I’m going to the woods tomorrow.
Barrymore: It was awesome.

And E.T. told her to be “Be Good”! That’s Cameron Diaz by the way who once plastered the inside of someone’s gaff in Nepal with cow shit – on a show for MTV – whether they asked for this or not I dunno. Do you see a common thread here? I call it “Marie Antoinette syndrome”. You only aspire to play milk-maids and such when you don’t have to. For the really poor of this World in Africa and India and such places motorbikes and mobile phones make the difference not Hollywood A-listers who probably spend more on a set of bathroom taps than it would cost to drill a well for an entire village for people who can only dream of having a bathroom let alone the palatial ones Ms Barrymore and Ms Diaz have in their mansions.

So how does the humble phone and the motorbike help? Well, imagine you are from Kerala and fish for a living. There are several ports you can land your catch at. You got a mate shore-side and he texts you which one is short on fish and he’s got his bike (so he can find out) and your fish will be delivered by him on his bike. It all works out beautifully. It minimizes waste and ultimately forces down prices so it ain’t just good for you and your biker pal but for everyone.That makes a difference. Drew Barrymore crapping in your mango plantation doesn’t. Unless of course the canny owner puts it on EBay quick-smart, as a “Genuine Hollywood Turd”! Some deranged loon would buy it. If the internet has taught us anything it is that there is always one…

Oh, it undoubtedly made her feel good for a certain value of good. But so what? If she really wanted to help she could invest her millions in a Kawasaki dealership in Angola or an Indonesian mobile phone merchant or something.

We could save so much water if we all “hunched over like an animal”. It would make dog-walking perilous mind. “Watch out Rover! Charlize Theron is taking a dump behind that bush!”. Oh, and we’d have endemic cholera. Which of course they have in the poor countries. There is nothing noble about being a savage. And there is nothing decadent about having indoor plumbing. If you want a suggestion for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square how about Joseph Bazalgette?

Or Drew Barrymore squatting. I shouldn’t have said that because that is precisely the sort of thing the Arts Council would fund. Not a distinguished white, male, be-whiskered Victorian engineer. Oh that would never do! The Bazalgette sewer system still works for an enormously larger London. He built quite a bit of slack into it. Basically he based the diameters on the maximum expected and then doubled them. His argument for this is they were only going to do it once so… And that is how we have the magnificent city we call our capital. Because of people who had vision beyond shitting in St John’s Wood and calling it “awesome”. Joseph Bazalgette lived a large chunk of his life in St John’s Wood and God alone knows what the great engineer would have thought if he’d found a Hollywood starlet “in the position” whilst out surveying. A sewer system for the (at the time) largest city ever on the planet is an awesome achievement. An arboreal defecation, less so.

And Bilbo wouldn’t approve. He liked his comfort (who doesn’t?). He liked a well-stocked larder and a mug of ale with his pipe by his front door. He was, in short (which he was), disgustingly middle-class. And fair play to the fellow. He was (is?) what half the World aspires to be and what a very vocal, though considerably less than half the World, aspires to demonize.

To put it bluntly. I suspect that a huge swathe of enivro-mental do-gooders want Africa and (other places) to remain “authentic”. They don’t want ‘em to develop because that means they can’t go over and patronise them and feel good about it. And of course development means certain people will make loads of money which is clearly evil unless you make loads of money from being one of “Charlie’s Angels”. Of course that is fine. Digging sewers in Lagos or putting Wifi into Mumbai is obviously evil. You know in much the same way the greatest philanthropist (and he does look a bit Hobbitish) of all time is an evil man. That would be Bill Gates. Of course he was never as cool as Steve Jobs who never even flicked a dime towards research into the cancer that killed him (look it up – it’s 2:32am by this Win 7 machine here). But he wore jeans and a black polo-neck so he must be cool and therefore good.

I am now going to sit down with a pipe of Longbottom and discuss roots with The Gaffer…

Lard of the Glen.

Apparently a consignment of lard has washed-up in Scotland.

Storms over the east coast have resulted in several unusual relics from World War II washing up on an Angus beach.

Staff at St Cyrus nature reserve said four large, barrel-shaped pieces of lard have appeared on the shore.

The fat is believed to have escaped from the wreck of a merchant vessel that was bombed in WW II.

Scottish Natural Heritage said the lard was still a brilliant white and smelled “good enough to have a fry up with.

Only in Scotland could they elect celebrate…

A washed-up tub of lard.

A washed-up tub of lard.

Angus McHardy [who might just be Scottish], a local resident and retired fisherman, said he remembers similar events in the in early 1940s.

“I’d never seen anything like it,” he said. “There was quite a lot washed up at St Cyrus and beyond, not quite to Montrose.”

“Some barrels were complete and others were just lumps. People collected it. My grandma boiled it up to get the sand out. It was great because we couldn’t get fat during the war.”

He added: “After a storm in the late 60s or early 70s, the lard came up on-shore again. The seagulls thought it was a bonanza.”

Scotland has found a seemingly inexhaustible supply of saturated fats. The First Minister must be delighted. The Hell with North Sea oil when Scotland can lay claim to fat deposits that would put Überwald to shame.

Does this mean the Scottish people will re-elect…

Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond

…despite the best nannying efforts of Ms Sturgeon (why are these Scottish pols so fishy?) to nanny and coerce the population into “health”?

And I speak as someone who has had a lunch of deep-fried cheese washed down with an excellent beer in the Czech Republic.

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