Monday, April 14, 2014

The Bat Ye'Or It's Compulsory To Like

Isn't this odd - if a public figure were to publicly state that, for example

- Muslims are inherently incapable of negotiating in good faith because of their religion, or that

- We should have a war on Islam generally and specifically not a war on Islamists or extremists and terrorists, or that

- Repressive, religiously-targeted laws intentionally aimed at one faith only are highly desirable

...Then I don't think many of us would have trouble working out what type of politics we were dealing with.  Even the wackiest Torygraph commenter would probably suss that this is deep far-right nastiness territory. 

Sadly however, we're talking about Ayaan Hirsi Ali, so it's apparently compulsory for us all to pretend that this wackiness isn't dodgy in the slightest, and is in fact some form of admirable liberalism.  This, on pain of a bit of name-calling - back when her book came out, Timothy Garton-Ash and Ian Buruma got a terrific monstering for uttering very mild criticisms of her, objections that today look very meek and mild.

Now, I can't say I'm that much arsed about much of the stuff AHA comes out with.  Astounding as it sounds, I have other things that I could be getting on with than typing up posts about her rammy with Brandeis and, but for the wails and screams of horror that are intermittently cropping up on my Twitter timeline, I'd probably have ignored this latest round of melodramatic panicking.

Given AHA's awful background* and the very credible death-threats made against her, I think some fairly extreme views are the least we could expect and, to pick a daft analogy, I can see the difference between Iain Paisley's criticisms of the Catholic Church and e.g. Sinead O'Connor's, even if neither is exactly a reliable source on the matter.

Nonetheless, the pretense that you can be a liberal and e.g. support religiously-targetted restrictions on one particular group is getting pretty damn tiresome.  If you make a big noise about how you escaped oppression by coming to the west and then choose to hang out with a lot of people who campaign to crack down on immigration for whiffy reasons, that looks a lot like pulling up the ladder behind you on other women in your former position.  Which is a somewhat bizarre thing for a self-proclaimed feminist to do, never mind an alleged liberal**.

Other mild annoyances - people kidding on that having an offered bauble withdrawn is "censorship" or "silencing".  She's sure getting a lot of column inches at the moment to tell everyone how horribly she's been silenced and censored, which is perfectly reasonable and fine, but not exactly a gagging order. 

I'm also pretty tired of the argument that goes - AHA should be promoted in the interests of a rationalist debate.  If my rational debating point is that I damn well hate your religion, think you're an idiot for following it and want it entirely destroyed, then we're not going to have much of a debate.  We're going to have a screaming-match. 

And I really don't have any time for commands to "support" her in some non-specific way which plainly means "accept what she says uncritically".  I thought the whole point of rational inquiry is that there are no sacred cows.

So you can make a case that Hirsi Ali is a valuable voice on her area of expertise, but it's kind of central to the debate to acknowledge that her political views are about as reasonable and well-considered as those of Tommy Robinson or Avigdor Lieberman***.

If you instead wave your arms, rend your garments and call down the hammer of condemnation on everyone who disagrees with you, then you're not promoting debate.  You're polluting the issue with nonsense, and that helps nobody, except folk who want to further the cause of nonsense.


*Doubts cast on the authenticity of said background here, but since I've no idea how reliable the source documentary is and the person pushing it seems a bit Mr Angry, I'm going to dismiss it for now.  Included in case anyone else can vouch.

**As is running off with another woman's husband, by the way.  I imagine Niall Ferguson's ex-wife raises an eyebrow every time AHA is described as a "feminist campaigner", and has some interesting thoughts upon the nature of sisterhood.

***Also worth noting that AHA is pretty much the only Muslim that the counter-jihad mentals like.  Which is ironic, since she's pretty forthright about being an atheist.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How Privileged Is Your House?

You may have lived to see your House brought crashing down in ruin and death, but before you enact bloody revenge, good Ser, you need to Check Your Privilege.

You may have been castrated by the bastard son of a sworn enemy, but have you ever considered that perhaps you are privileged even to have possessed testicles in the first place?

To find out exactly how privileged you are, check off the statements that apply to you:

- I am an Andal.

- I was taught to fight by men-at-arms using castle-forged steel swords. 

- I have never been enslaved and brainwashed into fighting in a castrato army.

- I have never been forcefully penetrated by a Dothraki horselord.

- I have never been mocked for having a bastard's name. 

- I have never been discriminated against for being a dwarf.

- I became an oathbound Kingsguard because my father is the richest man in Westeros.

- I have never been murdered by being drenched in molten gold.

- Nobody has ever called me a "renowned pillow-biter". 

- I have never been told that I am attractive "for a Braavosi". 

- I have never been mocked for the way I pronounce the word "Snow".

- I have never been raped and split in two with a greatsword by the Mountain, Gregor Clegaine.

- I have two hands.

- I don't know what "nipple-torture" is.

- Gratuitous fanny-shot. 

- I have never had to pretend to be "just related to" my brother.

- No stranger has ever asked to touch my hideous facial burns and asked "if they are real".

- My father has always been a cunt.

- I have never been mauled by a bear because I am a woman.

- I have never had to pretend to be low-born.

- I have never been sniggered at because I keep the Old Gods.

- I feel comfortable in the plate armour I am wearing.

- My family has never bent the knee to another House.

- I have never had to kill my daughter's direwolf to appease the Queen's wrath.

- I acquire new manky furs at least once a month.

- I have never worked as a whore, an armourer or a sell-sword.

- Hodor!

- I cannot be killed by fire, for fire cannot kill a dragon.

- I have never been told that my prostitute-murdering is "just a phase".

- I have never been called a spiteful little creature full of lust, envy and low cunning. 

- Most of my family has not been horrifically massacred, yet.

- I have never been addicted to milk of the poppy.

- I have never lied about submitting to the will of the Lord of Light as a form of self-defence.

- I have never been criticised for burning my enemies alive in my throne room.

- I am the god of tits and wine.

Click below to Check Your Privilege.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Ba-Doom, Tish!

Experts are trying to establish why a large expanse of foam has appeared on the River Clyde in Glasgow.  The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said it had received a number of calls. - BBC Scotland

I mentioned this incident to a Glaswegian work colleague the other day.  I was like, "I reckon all that foam in the River Clyde is probably soap". 

"What's that?" He asked, conveniently.

"It's a cleaning product that you apply to your body for hygiene reasons", I said.

The doctor says the swelling might go down in three or four days. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

UKIP - An Addendum

But while I'm kicking off about Nigel Farage and his loopy cohort of dribblers and ragers, it's worth keeping it all in proportion.

While Nutty Nige's comments this week about his admiration for Bad Vlad Putin have prompted great swooning fits and paroxysms among the commenting classes - ack, the fascism! Oh noes, left-right convergence Putinism in a Barber jacket and welly-boots etc. etc. - we should recall that ultimately, saying stupid things isn't really that much of a problem, by comparison with the humdrum of everyday politics.

For example, Nige might harbour a huge throb-on for Vlad's strapping pecs, but he hasn't yet fronted a UK mission to sell spiked bollock-shockers to the Saudi royal family - that was David Cameron, Prime Minister of the nation.

He does front ludicrous scaremongering campaigns full of oogah-boogah about Romanian immigrants, but he doesn't often blow up Afghan wedding parties with Hellfire missiles.  John Reid or Geoff Hoon might fit the bill better.

He might bash on about foreign criminals, but he doesn't collude in a black prison network and so on and on - you want that nice David Miliband for that.

Which isn't to say that Nige is a nice person - plainly, he's a hateful twat wearing an unconvincing amiable-Tory-dunce outfit.  But you know, he's yet to kill or jail or deport anyone, or to half-destroy an entire nation's infrastructure.  It's the nice, PR-conscious mainstream politicians who do that type of thing - the Camerons and Milibands and Blairs that this week's Farage-fainters do all the lipsticking-of-pigs and euphemising for. 

So you know, you can take all the Aaargh UKIP nazi nutters save yourselves stuff with a pinch of salt, when it's coming from folk who are currently thinking up their best excuses for why occupying Afghanistan for fourteen years was a capital idea.

I've no doubt that if UKIP miraculously came to power, they'd have the country looking like a cheap remake of Children of Men within six weeks but, since this outcome is only slightly more likely than the prospect of the next government being formed by a herd of super-intelligent Brontosauruses, I think I can contain my outrage for the time being.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Insult To Injury

A lot of question marks over heads this week as people spot the Clegg vs Farage EU spankathon and ask each other, Why exactly is this yawping, no-talent ignoranus blarting all over my television?  

They usually mean Farage, and though the question would be just as appropriate if applied to Clegg, you could at least point to the fact that the Lib Dems have fifty-six seats in Parliament, while Farage's grandest achievement is sending a gaggle of wizened, sexually-retired eccentrics to Brussels to badger the Continentals.

Don't get me wrong - it's possible that somewhere in the UK, there exists a constituency in which a majority of voters aren't content with hating their countrymen, and aim great rivers of bile at Belgium also.  That would make UKIP their number one choice come election day, and would give Farage a chance at snagging a seat and sending an actual MP to Parliament.  Barring that, seems unlikely that we'll see legions of half-hysterical geriatrics storming the Palace any time soon.

For now though, UKIP is easily outmuscled at Westminster by the Democratic Unionists, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Greens and even bloody Respect...  And I don't see the nation's media stampeding to bombard, say, Jonathan Edwards or George Galloway with breathless questions about their opinions on gay marriage or the price of fishcakes in Hong Kong, or what have you.  Hell, Caroline Lucas could fart the 1812 Overture into a microphone in Piccadilly Circus during rush hour, and it might make a four-inch column on page 18.  Maybe.

Now, perhaps the nation is just red-hot with rage over the European Union, and desperate to be slathered with lackwitted propaganda about it by a half-bright, rubber-faced twit.  I doubt that's true, since it seems to be an issue that only really animates a small but determined bunch of raging throbbers who live mercifully far to the south of me, but who knows?  Maybe the manias of a tiny band of aged Hobbits out in the arse-end of wherever have miraculously overthrown the nation, and I missed the headlines.

Nonetheless, a simpler, nastier explanation springs to mind - one in which the Farage clownshow serves only to force the Tories rightwards toward ever-loopier policies and pronouncements, while also acting as a big, scary sheepdog keeping core Labour voters corralled.

The situation isn't without precedent, given that the BNP spent most of the last decade performing exactly this function.  Their mere and meagre existence was enough to produce a rainforest's-worth of tedious, identical articles about the Very Real Concerns Of The White English Whomever, resulting in precisely the same poll-chasing intolerant guff that led us to where we are right now.  Nasty Nick had no more political clout than No-Nuts Nigel does, but he served a Very Real purpose in our national conversation, alright.

So the current bout of cretinous Faragephilia keeps people who own newspapers cheery, but it just represents yet another collossal affront to the populace - a new and supposedly radical political force, which wholly owes its flimsy position to the owners of the nation's newspapers, for no other purpose than creating an even bullshittier form of the status quo.  An entirely confected insurgency, useful only as a second layer of soft control.  It's a pretty insulting state of affairs, you have to admit.

You do have to wonder what the next right-wing fucknut uprising of exactly the same people is going to look like.  Frankly, if Godzilla rose roaring from the Channel and started laying waste to the south coast on Saturday, I wouldn't be surprised if the fucker was on the front of the Telegraph by Thursday taking a great radioactive dump on Tower Bridge, surrounded by a bunch of leathery ex-UKIP lunatics blathering about straight bananas and fishing quotas.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Some Motherfuckers etc.

Now, I do like this - all this death and destruction is your fault because your government, wholly independently of your opinion on the matter, refuses to drop high explosives on Damascus. 

There's something bracingly bullshitty about entirely accepting that "there is no appetite for putting military pressure on Assad" in the UK or the US, and then laying the blame for this on "kneejerk peaceniks" who have, as has been repeatedly and graphically demonstrated, no influence whatsoever on foreign policy.

I suspect that some folk just really enjoy putting grand, self-contradicting statements like this out there and the overall effect is like James standing in his back garden holding armfuls of dead pigeons - he hurls them into the air, crying "Fly, my pretties!", to the sound of feathery thumps.

This meme about how, like, "Syria is the anti-interventionists' Iraq" is all well and good but you know, what's so special about Syria?  Wars have been cutting a bloody swathe through e.g. Democratic Republic of Congo for decades, but you seldom hear anyone blaming the damn hippies for the millions-strong bodycount there.  People almost never run up to you waving pictures of dead South Sudanese under your nose screeching "You did this, you monster!" or anything similarly daft.

And why is it kneejerk peaceniks' fault, specifically?  There are damn few of us, and we're vastly outnumbered by people who basically couldn't give a shit one way or the other.  I'm against the UK hurling our military around other countries for no sane reason, but I fail to see why anyone who shares my opinions should have to answer twenty questions about our collective culpability, while millions of our compatriots change over from Channel Four News and curl up on the sofa in front of Coronation Street.

Anyway, this all amounts to one basic fact, and it's this - the UK's war fans are really, really pissed off  that a lot of people see them as belligerent lunatics, partly responsible for a gigantic pile of dead Iraqis, and so they want to spread some blame around a bit.   Thus, all those dead people in Syria must somehow be our fault.

I can understand that urge but it's a criminal's mindset.  It's like, okay, I may have murdered some grannies, but you saw some news stories about grannies being murdered on television and didn't immediately don a Batsuit and stab a lot of Allawites to death, so you are technically just as much of a granny-murderer as I am, innit. QED.

Kudos though for James burbling about "the lessons of Iraq" in a column that advocates bombing hell out of Syria in the name of peace, but articulates no actual practical means or achievable outcomes.  Remember, the principal lesson of Iraq was "Thou shalt not invade a country for no sane reason without any idea of what thou wantest to achieve".

Being from Edinburgh, I well remember Mercedes, the old mental polar bear at the zoo that used to just swim around in circles or sit there banging her head on the bars of her cage.  Here, we see a graphic illustration of similar human behaviours, but with "getting paid to be belligerent" replacing "being large, white, ursine and institutionalised".

Do I have to say it again? Well, looks like I do - Some motherfuckers are always tryin' to ice-skate uphill.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Panda Pen

Watching Telegraph bloggers beg and plead for some war over Crimea, just a little bit of war, or maybe some harsh sanctions, or just harsh language at a pinch, or a pillow fight...  Well, I can't get enough of it.

It's like having a live feed into the keepers' office next to the panda pen at Edinburgh Zoo.  They pipe Marvin Gaye records into the animals' enclosure; they feed Tian-Tian oysters with a powdered rhino horn side-salad; they show Yanguang hardcore XXX panda porn films and shovel viagra-flavoured bamboo down his neck by the half-ton.  They pray and will them on and hope and strive.

And still, after all the cajoling and massaging and stimulating, the pandas will not fuck, and instead sit around chewing absent-mindedly, crapping everywhere.  The keepers, defeated, heave a sigh and get back to work.

True, I've never seen a Telegraph columnist conclude that the pandas won't go at it because they're weak and cowardly but then just like zookeepers, they're always willing to give it another try next year.

Fresh Meat

So it's come to this - Chancellor George Osborne frantically frottering the gussets of grannies nationwide in an effort to demonstrate that while he may not despise the Krauts and the Dagoes as much as that nice Nigel Farage does, he can still shout you a nice night out at the bingo.

The responses I'm seeing range from stunned hilarity to swoons over Chancellor George's tactical wizardry, but I like it because it'd have old Henry Mencken in stitches.

Here, today, we've seen all of British democracy reduced to a heavyweight politician hurling bribes at the wealthy and the elderly, in an effort to prevent a minority party of dingbats and leathery sexual deviants shaving a few points off the Tory Party's probable electoral walloping.

Democracy in all it's glory there, kids - necrophilia, employed as a weapon to fend off the half-dead and the mindless.  HLM would have a field day.

And the best part is, it almost certainly won't work.  I don't know about you lot, but I can't see a few cash bungs coralling many potential UKIP voters back into the Tory fold.  After all, most of them seem to feel wholly entitled to whatever they've got, oblivious to whatever gifts are chucked at them and viciously resentful that they don't have much, much more.

What drives and has always driven the section of the electorate that habitually chases after the most determinedly and consistently cruel psychopaths in UK politics is spite - red raw, seething spite, an unceasing churn of bitter disgust at the idea that somebody, somewhere, is living a modest existence without being harshly immiserated.

Surely this shouldn't need spelling out?  They don't want politicians to make them wealthier.  If Osborne stuffed their wallets they wouldn't notice or if they did, they'd assume that it was their absolute right anyway.  They're not asking for more money - they want politicians to give them what they don't have, and that's their enemies' heads on sticks, preferably being paraded up and down the high street.

When certain types of voters keep telling you that they're really bloody angry that we're not battering criminals or ejecting immigrants or kicking the workshy or cracking down on this, that or the next thing, they're not asking for e.g. a boost in their basic pensions.

They want you to get out the billyclubs and start bashing fuck out of everyone that they hate.  They want you to dress the coppers up like space marines and send them to beat some respect into whoever last annoyed them on television.

Chucking a few penny-cheaper pints at feral yokeldom like this is like flicking cocktail sausages at an advancing pack of ravenous zombies.  If you're lucky, you might bonk one on the forehead before it sinks its teeth into your cheek.

All of which is probably worth bearing in mind, while you watch the Tory analysts whoop it up on Newsnight.

Anyway, I always kind of welcome these moments of glaring insanity as demonstrations of the severity of our current situation.  When one of the nation's most powerful politicians so publicly straps on the kneepads and hits the doormats of the NWA from Hot Fuzz desperately trying to gain their favour, we're far past the point where we can pretend that our politics are a sane or edifying spectacle.

All the kratos, wielded to impress some very small, select and unimpressable slivers of the demos. 

I admit that all this does hold out an enticing possibility of an eventual 28 Days Later kind of outcome for conservatism a few years down the line, but remember - there was a sequel.