Thursday, August 31, 2006

War on Terror Getting You Down?

It's a drag, all this Warring Against Terror. During every ill-defined, murderous, morally dubious annexation of foreign oil, it's only natural that we should lose heart every now and then.

The eternal questions, "Was it right to invade Iraq?", "Was it right to bomb the almighty fuck out of all those Arabs?" and "Jesus Christ, is that a brown guy with a backpack? Somebody call the firearms unit!".

It's good to know that in these times of uncertainty there are just wars, causes we can all truly believe in. Ladies and gentlemen, you are invited to tie a yellow ribbon round whatever you think most appropriate, hoist the flag and show your support for the troops bravely fighting in Venezuela's principled and righteous War on Golf.

"The mayor of Venezuela's capital Caracas says he plans to expropriate two exclusive golf courses and use the land for homes for the city's poor.... Mayor Juan Barreto has said playing golf on lavish courses within sight of the city's slums is "shameful"...

... Mr Barreto had ordered the "forced acquisition" of the golf courses, city attorney Juan Manuel Vadell told the Associated Press... The golf courses... are in the city's most affluent suburbs, home to millionaires, foreign diplomats and celebrities, and are seen by some as a haven for the rich... Mr Barreto has said 5,000 people could be housed in the space taken up by a single golf course."

Now, don't get me wrong here - I couldn't give a damn about the suffering poor of Venezuelan slums, but I am deeply enthusiastic about anything that annoys golfers.

If, like me, you are rendered apopleptic by the sight of Pringle jumpers, now is our time. If ever a sub-group of society merited dehumanisation, persecution and the deprivation of their assets, it's golfers.

I know whereof I speak - I hail from a part of Scotland where golfers outnumber normal human beings three-to-one, and hundreds of infernal 9 and 18 hole courses blot the landscape.

After all, we invented the accursed sport. A major tournament here is treated like the descent of Zeus and the celestial cohort from Mount Olympus, rather than a verminous infestation of tweedy dorks.

I remember the exact moment I was alerted to the full horror of golf. It was during whichever Ryder Cup it was that the American team decided to show up in full desert camo gear because the USAF had just blasted the fuck out of some tinpot third world country or other, and proceeded to "Hoo-ah!" their way around the course like the short, sharp shower of arseholes they were.

So, hermanos, let us take up arms and declare justified war upon golf and golfers. There is no need for murder, assuming they agree to come quietly.

Victimisation on grounds of religion, ethnicity or wealth is a dreadful crime against humanity.

But I say to you, extremism in pursuit of men who believe that pink jumpers and tartan trousers are acceptable attire is no vice.

Fore!

Memo to Davis Love III - you're not a stormtrooper,
you bat balls around grass for a living.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

More Unreasonable Bashing of The World's Most Beloved Poltroon

Kudos to Lakehead University in Northern Ontario, which has had the savvy idea of exploiting blog hysteria as an advertising tool. Some smart cookie has obviously realised that if they pimp their institution by slagging off President Bush they'll get lots of free advertising from perpetually cranky bloggers. No sooner said than done, little ones.

Their website shows this picture with the caption "Graduating From an Ivy League University Doesn't Necessarily Mean You're Smart".

The President of the Student Union has described the publicity campaign as low-brow, low-class and "repugnant", which should mean it'll be a surefire hit amongst bloggers.

Naturally, this has provoked cries of "Bush Derangement Syndrome!" from certain corners.
For the uninitiated, this term refers to the condition of those who hold the entirely rational belief, based upon inexhaustable evidence, that the President of the United States is an unintelligent, incurious, graceless, embarrassing buffoon.

It could be worse, since the Canadians are a famously even-tempered and polite bunch. The advertising campaign my alma mater launched the year I graduated was considerably less polite.

Still, what the Old World lacks in culture and sophistication, it more than makes up for in earthiness and honesty.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Hand, Having Writ, Moves On...

... to compose ever greater follies and foolishness. Multiple instances today.You may remember that I posted a link to a description of "Evolution’s Fatal Fruit: How Darwin’s Tree of Life Brought Death to Millions", an upcoming TV show that seeks to prove that Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was directly responsible for the rise of Hitler.

Of course, when I say "prove", I mean "fling a lot of mud at Darwin and hope like hell that the audience are too ignorant to notice that the entire show is mind-bogglingly daft".Well, the right of the blogosphere has made its opinions clear, and this post will stand for all time as eloquent testament to the idiocy of its author.

But why take the right-wingers' word for it?

As the man responsible says on his website, "In this week's groundbreaking documentary, Dr. Kennedy looks into the chilling social impact of Darwin's theory of evolution -- and the mounting evidence that Darwin had it wrong on the origin of life. This program will show why evolution is a bad idea that should be discarded into the dustbin of history. "

Wait, now, there's something familiar about that phrase. I wonder who first coined it...

You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on / into the dustbin of history!”
-
Leon Trotsky

Conclusive proof - the creators of this show are motivated by a Communist desire to send all those who believe in evolution to the Gulag. Only a crazy, out-of-the-mainstream extremist could deny it.

In other news, the Instapundit approvingly links to this post...


"Young black males have a greater chance of being murdered in Philadelphia than a US soldier has of getting killed in the Iraq! From the Washington Post...

...But one can also find something equivalent to combat conditions on home soil. The death rate for African American men ages 20 to 34 in Philadelphia was 4.37 per 1,000 in 2002, 11 percent higher than among troops in Iraq. Slightly more than half the Philadelphia deaths were homicides."


So that's that settled - the fact that certain American urban centres are violent hell-holes is evidence that the thousands of casualties US armed forces have taken in Iraq are no biggie.


One wonders how many Philadelphians are murdered by death squads every day, but that, in fairness, is not the point of the post. The purpose of this post, like practically the entirety of the right-wing blogosphere, is to reassure doubters that black is white, up is down and stupid is the new clever.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Why I Like Little Green Footballs...

... Who couldn't?

A page which presents scrupulously factual and sane opinions, which does not resort to racism and does not attempt to smear those it disagrees with as bigots.

In fact, it keeps a keen eye on the real bigots. From a single search I've now been alerted to the many vicious anti-semites in our midst, whose opinions should be regarded as suspect.

So, who are the bigots who pray for the victory of terrorists?

LGF and its commenters detail the anti-semitic motivations of CNN, "The Left", the YMCA, The French, New York Magazine, Indymedia, The Democratic Party, The Lebanese, Kofi Annan, Daily Kos Commenters, The British, Amnesty International, Ken Livingstone, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero, the BBC, the United Nations, the UK Foreign Office, British Muslims, The Council on American-Islamic Relations, 50% of Germans, the Presbytarian Church, Jacques Chirac, San Jose moviegoers, The Russians, Billy Zane and Gary Busey, the University of California, LA, the Boston Muslim-American Society,the Associated Press, Juan Cole, the Guardian, Qatar, the European Union, the Entirety of Europe, including Sweden, The New York Times, Walt and Mearsheimer, The Vatican, Michael Jackson, Belgium, Le Monde, The British Association of University Teachers, Columbia University, The Turks, Channel Four, Estonia, Berkeley University, Ralph Nader, Bostonians, The World Economic Forum at Davos, Lefty Environmentalists, The Ford Foundation, European politicians, “intellectuals,” academics, and media wolves, Malaysia, Paul Krugman, Genocidal Liberals, The Independent, Cruz Bustamente, the Egyptians, Oxford University, Rachel Corrie, The Chicago Tribune, the Anti-War movement, Josh Marshall, the crew of USS Liberty, Anti-globalisation protesters and The World's Media, amongst many, many others.

Curiously, the closest I could find to condemnation of Richard Nixon - one of America's most famous anti-semites - was this grumble about the praise for Deep Throat.

More power to your arm, LGF! Long may you continue to reveal the bigotry of 98% of the population of the planet.
Drunken Hitchens Slays Fifty In Brutal Studio Rampage

Journalist "Was Like a Wild Animal", say stunned witnesses

Controversial writer Christopher Hitchens was detained by police last night after a murderous rampage in a New York recording studio which left fifty dead and eighty injured...


..."It was all going well, we were having our usual question and answer, but then the audience booed his defenses of the President and he (Hitchens) just seemed to lose it," said a stunned Bill Maher, who lost an eye in the incident.

"He just waded into the audience with a broken Perrier bottle, slashing left and right, foaming at the mouth... just completely berserk... I don't think I'll ever forget seeing him beating that woman with the producer's spinal column... he kept screaming things like "Die, bourgeois apologists for fascism!" and "This is for your pompous, hypocritical hucksterism, Saddam lovers!"...

... Hitchens' ferocious attack was brought to a halt when he was shot sixteen times by police, who were then able to subdue him with taser guns...

... Asked for an explanation for Hitchens' rampage, citizen journalist Glenn Reynolds was adamant that Hitchens had done no wrong, stating that the audience had provoked him...

"Should things go badly with the war, Maher's audience -- and, for that matter, Maher himself -- will be cited by historians as evidence of the American opposition's unseriousness," said Reynolds.

Asked whether prosecutors would take the provocation by the victims into account, Reynolds responded "Heh, indeed".

Friday, August 25, 2006

Drinking Tonight...


...So no time for a post of proper meaning. Random stuff to keep you entertained...

Man has second penis surgically removed.

Ever wanted to destroy a city with a giant magnifying glass? (Thanks to Senor Hutton.)

Ever wondered what American Pie would sound like if it had been written by Eugene Terre Blanche? (Anyone who doesn't know who Michael Ledeen is should read this, Google him, and know the meaning of the word "horror".)

And finally, anyone who thought that Oliver Stone's Platoon was exaggerated - click here.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nothing Funny To See Here, Keep Scrolling

This is going to be long and boring...

I don't pass much comment on current affairs, since this page is devoted to inane comedy and poking fun at internet oddballs, but one current debate in the right of the blogosphere has to be addressed.

LGF, The Volokh Conspiracy and, of course, Instapundit, are all taking aim at Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for the reports these organisations have published about the recent conflict in Lebanon.

I don't comment on Israeli/Arab disputes because they are so complex and involve so much history that even experts on the subject occasionally admit that they cannot provide solutions. It also seems entirely crass to sit at my computer in Edinburgh, lecturing those whose homes are being bombed.

Additionally, argument isn't my forte - there are others far better than I at deconstructing the ravings of internet lunatics.

Finally, I particularly don't like the partisan style of British and American internet "experts" on the Middle East. Their hysterical hectoring reveals far more about their own agendas than it does about the conflict itself - almost all of the right uses Israel to show its fierce, blustering, macho anti-fascism while the most of the left adopts the cause of the Palestinians to claim their victimhood.

Both use the situation as a proxy to attack their domestic opponents. Both are entirely righteous and cannot be reasoned with, backing off if they are refuted on a point and coming back with spurious, belligerent nonsense.

The Right-Blogosphere - Standing Athwart Reality Crying "No!"

I will not address the question of whether Israel was defending itself from attack and whether extraordinary measures were justified by the singular threat of Hezbollah. These are irrelevant to the point that Amnesty is making.

The only pertinent question is "Has Israel committed war crimes in Lebanon?"

The answer to this is an unqualified yes, but you will not find this simple statement of fact on any right wing website. It is obvious that the outraged squawks from the right are not based on Amnesty's accuracy or actual bias, they are outraged because Amnesty's report shows them the consequences of the massive violence they routinely call for. To paraphrase a far more intelligent man than I, their rage is that of Caliban seeing his face in the mirror.

You'll find a lot of justifications and excuses, all of them a variation on "It's Hezbollah's fault because they're evil, and they want to destroy Israel". This is the politics of the playground - it amounts to a childish refusal to eat their greens. None of these justifications can obliterate the cold, hard fact that Israel is obligated to minimise civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure. That right wingers have spent months claiming that Israel has done so shows how valuable their insight is.

Regardless of whether Hezbollah is signatory to the same international agreements, whether it bears arms openly, or whether it uses human shields, Israel has violated its commitments and has committed war crimes.

The cry of "moral equivalence" is often heard from the right - the crime of holding one group of people to a higher standard than another based on context. What we have seen in the past two months is a mass outbreak of this phenomenon across the right of the blogosphere.

The situation is in fact the opposite of that depicted by the right. Israel is held to a higher standard because it is a liberal democracy and has signed many international treaties which regulate its conduct, whereas Hezbollah is a terrorist group, and the law treats it as such. No tears are shed for dead Islamists, because their group is itself illegal.

I want to make this clear - the fact that war crimes have been committed by both sides does not invalidate the Israelis' purpose in attempting to destroy Hezbollah. The destruction of Dresden in World War II was a war crime, but that does not mean that the overthrow of fascism suddenly became a dishonourable objective.

Let me state firmly - I utterly condemn Hezbollah's war crimes. Firing missiles indiscriminately into urban areas is forbidden by law and is unquestionably a war crime, as is the deliberate use of human shields. Amnesty's report is emphatic that the actions of Hezbollah will be addressed in another document. This one deals only with Israeli actions, and Amnesty has never addressed the politics of conflicts. It does not care which side initiates hostilities, its remit is limited to the observance of international law and respect for human rights.

Israel is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. These documents forbid attacks on civilians, their property and, unless there is a very sound military reason for its destruction, civilian infrastructure. If someone is standing on the minaret of a mosque firing RPG rounds at your soldiers, international law permits states to destroy the minaret.

If you suspect that two terrorists are in a massive city block, however, it is prohibited to destroy the entire block to kill them. This is the proportionality test under which the decision to take military action is judged justifiable or not.

Israel destroyed bridges in "areas of no apparent strategic importance", water pumping stations, water treatment plants, petrol stations and supermarkets. These are definitively civilian targets, and the justifications that have been deployed defending the destruction of ports, airports and UN observation posts do not apply.

"Israeli government spokespeople have insisted that they were targetting Hezbollah positions and support facilities, and that damage to civilian infrastructure was accidental or resulted from Hizbullah using the civilian population as a "human shield". However, the pattern and scope of the attacks, as well as the number of civilian casualties and the amount of damage sustained, makes the justification ring hollow. The evidence strongly suggests that the destruction of public works, power systems, civilian homes and industry was deliberate and an integral part of the military strategy, rather than "collateral damage"...

"Statements by Israeli military officials seem to confirm that the destruction of the infrastructure was indeed a goal of the military campaign...

"Nothing is safe (in Lebanon), it's as simple as that." Cheif of Staff Lt-Gen Dan Halutz, IDF, 13th July 2006

...Three days later, a high ranking IDF officer threatened that Israel would destroy Lebanese power plants if Hizbullah fired long-range missiles at strategic installations in northern Israel... On 24 July, at a briefing by a high-ranking Israeli Air Force officer, reporters were told that the IDF Chief of Staff had ordered the military to destroy 10 buildings in Beirut for every Katyusha rocket strike on Haifa... According to the New York Times, the IDF Chief of Staff said the air strikes were aimed at keeping pressure on Lebanese officials, and delivering a message to the Lebanese government that they must take respobsibility for Hizbullah's actions. He called Hizbullah a "cancer" that Lebanon must get rid of, "because if they don't their country will pay a very high price."





The report also notes that there was no change to Israeli attacks, nor did their pattern appear to change, even when it became clear that the victims were predominantly civilians, as it did in the very first days of the conflict.

The following points have been made over and over by right wing bloggers, but they are invalid in the context of the question I am examining. A war crime remains a war crime, regardless of whether you believe it is justified.

States and individuals may argue that international treaties are outdated or "quaint", but they are still law and states are obliged to abide by them, e.g. the fact that you do not believe it is a crime to smoke grass will not wash with the police.

Israel is obligated to protect its citizens from attack and is permitted to engage in military actions to assure their safety. In doing so, it may not directly attack civilians nor deliberately displace them by attacking infrastructure.

Israel protests that it warned civilians to leave areas that it was about to bomb, but this too is irrelevant. There is no duty on civilians to avoid bombs and bullets - that duty falls on the combatants.

Lebanon is obligated to prevent terrorist attacks from its territory on sovereign nations. The fact that it cannot do so does not grant carte blanche to Israel to ignore its international commitments.

Democracies have greater responsibilities than terrorists. The fact that Islamists flaunt the laws of war does not somehow permit signatories to international agreements to ignore those laws. Similar sentiments have been espoused by Israeli judges, including Aharon Barak.

Israel either chooses to respect the international agreements to which it is signatory, or it does not. Hezbollah may contravene any number of conventions but they have not signed them. Whether you regard this as fair or not, it is the price required to earn the status of a democratic nation that respects human rights.

Lebanese civilians, on the other hand, are protected by many treaties - there can be little doubt that many of these have been violated by Israeli actions. Amnesty's report details the types of target struck by the Israeli military and it is very hard to deny that it was done with the deliberate intention of punishing the Lebanese people as a whole.

I'm sure you'll understand why I normally stay away from commenting directly on politics, since I have a tendency to go on at length. But the right wing of the blogosphere's "self-correction" mechanism is clearly not functioning here.

It is only when we can see a situation in its entirety that we can begin to deal with it - further denial from the right wing only serves to muddy the waters and leave us poorly informed.

But then, that's the point, isn't it?
Update!: Of course, Amnesty International should not be doubted when it is reporting human rights violations in Iran.
The right blogosphere is so transparent you can practically see their hearts pumping.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

All Hail!

More idiotic nonsense tomorrow, I'm watching Hearts getting done over by Athens. I know I should enjoy this, but the circumstances leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Still, once more with feeling - All Hail!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Edinburgh: City of Culture, Literature, Theatre...

... and fucking Sea Gulls.


Millions of them, festooning every square foot of grass, perched on every lamp-post, giving you the beady eye every time you sit down for lunch with a sandwich. Malignant, squawking, pigeon-eating, flapping balls of unrepentant hate, every last one of them.

Don't get me wrong, I like birds. Pigeons, even manky city pigeons, are really rather pleasant - I find their cooing quite soothing, although they look a little undignified fighting beak-and-claw over a half-eaten burger.

I'm starting to think that there's a real gap in the evolutionary chain begging to be filled in Edinburgh.

Imagine some kind of abnormally large lizard that burrows into pavements, has a rapacious hunger for beaks and feathers, and, most importantly, can disguise itself as a doner kebab. It'd be top of the food chain in days, glutted on pigeon, ferocious exterminator of the vile Sea Gull.

Mind you, then we'd have to think of something to cull a plague of kebab-lizards, not to mention the hike in Council Tax due to knackered pavements and law suits - perhaps a super-intelligent species of kebab-eating eagles.

An inelegant solution, I'll admit, but at least the noble eagle has a little more grace than fucking Sea Gulls.

Bush Rejects Iraq “Withdrawal Method”

Reuters, Tuesday August 22, 2006 3:45 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush voiced hope on Monday that Iraq could avoid a civil war and build a “culture of life”, but angrily reiterated that the US would not resort to the "withdrawal method".

“We must plant the seed of democracy in the Middle East, and we will not pull out until that goal is accomplished,” the President stated. “We’ll stay the course and soon we shall witness the birth of a new Middle East.”

Bush shrugged off questions about his limp approval ratings and angrily asserted that the US would continue to hammer home the message that good would triumph. “If America were to suddenly withdraw we run the risk of leaving the Iraqi President covered in shame.”

“There’s a lot of people, good, decent people, saying withdraw now. I understand that, but at this moment when passions are inflamed, when we’re face-to-face with the enemy, we have to show that we’re not going to pull out and leave the Iraqi government to clean up the mess. We’re not finished until the shooting stops.”

Bush’s comments came as the US continued to pound Iraq day and night, grappling with a seemingly unquenchable opponent. As the US campaign has deteriorated into a series of protracted, dirty encounters in back alleys and even houses, domestic opinion has hardened.

Washington insiders hailed the President’s resolve on this politically charged issue.

“At the moment, it’s difficult to see who’s going to come out on top,” said a senior Bush administration official who declined to be identified because of the negative nature of his comments. “Iraq is a big, fat mess right now, but it isn’t completely screwed.”

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld hailed the President’s comments, stating that the US had to show it had the stamina to also take on Iran if necessary.

Former US ambassador to Israel and Egypt, Ned Walker, disagreed with the President. “If we are going to go into Iran, then you need to have the ability to pull back from there (Iraq),” Walker said.

The press conference was brought to a premature end when several reporters had to be removed from the White House press room following what Admin Spokesman Tony Snow described as "disgraceful, childlike conduct - sniggering like schoolboys."

Reports that the incident started when NBC News Chief and White House correspondent David "Stretch" Gregory asked the President whether the US could "nipple the insurgency in the butt" remain unconfirmed.

Monday, August 21, 2006

More Totalitarianism With Your Tikka Masala, Sir?

Set your faces to stunned: Reuters reports on the latest theme restaurant in Mumbai, India.

"We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people's minds," owner Punit Shablok told Reuters."

"We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different."


Sage words from Mr. Shablok, proprietor of "Hitler's Cross", a new nightspot where locals are saluting the culinary powers of a crack team of uberchefs.


"This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal," said restaurant manager Fatima Kabani, a woman with the ultimate PR nightmare on her hands.

Thankfully, many locals are outraged by the Nazi-themed restaurant, no matter how Aryan' spacious it is -

Actor Murli Sharma, who has featured in films like Apharan and Teesri Ankh, was one of the guests present at the inauguration. "I found the huge posters of Hitler at the restaurant amusing. That's all I can say," he told TOI over phone.

When asked if he felt disturbed by the name of the restaurant, Sharma said: "I am not really agitated as I have not read much about the man (Hitler). However, from what I know about Hitler, I find this name rather amusing."

The Indian sense of humour may well be an acquired taste, although one wonders what the waiters are like, and whether they are good at taking orders.

All of which made me wonder, what other totalitarian tidbits could one pick up around the world? Well, those hungry to dine under the jackboot of fascism could do worse than try the Cafe Mao in Glasgow or enjoy "rice water" and ground corn mixed with leaves at the Pol Pot Restaurant in Phnom Penh.

Finally, for an open air eating experience with entirely more lebensraum, the Hitler Cafe in Danshui, Taiwan was infamous in its day. Now defunct, for some unfathomable reason.


Thankfully, I was unable to find an Idi Amin theme restaurant.

Update!: While we're talking about the worst monsters in history, you may be surprised to learn who was directly responsible for the rise of Hitler.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ending Womens Suffrage By Popular Vote


Q: What would happen if this guy tried this in Scotland?

A: Exactly the same, except one of the girls would headbutt him and steal his microphone.

Friday, August 18, 2006

US/UK - We Are The Most Heartless, Evil Bastards in History

It's an oft heard complaint in the Arab world that the West seeks to force its culture upon them, including alien ideas about democracy, fashion, sexual politics and family. Parts of the Middle East seethe with resentment at the cultural imperialism of the US and UK.

Well, they ain't seen nothin' yet. Thanks to Tim Blair's desperate floundering for something, anything good that can have come from the occupation of Iraq, he's stumbled upon an interesting fact...

Number of Iraqi blogs before October 2003: 4
Number of Iraqi blogs in August 2006:
1,770

As if it's not bad enough that they spend their days dodging death squads, suicide bombers, Apache helicopters, snipers, militia roadblocks, roadside bombs and IEDs, we've now exported the most worthless phenomenon imaginable to their country - blogging.

What have they done to deserve such treatment? Can you imagine?

This news just in - Salam Pax is fat and prays for the wellbeing of terrorists, curse him.

Posted by Bashar Al-Hajj on 08/18/2006 at 02:06 PM

Insha Allah! The Germans must join the Jihad to slay the infidel terrorists.

posted at 01:03 PM by Ghaith-Rahman

Your mocking of my hysterical, womanly shrieks of terror do not concern me.
I shall now prove my manliness; see how I link to the Djinn Miryam Al-Malkin and say strong words such as "fuck" and "homo pussyboy faggit".
posted by Ali at 11:31 AM


Please, people, these poor Iraqis have had enough. The last thing they need is a shower of country bumpkins assuring them that black is white, up is down and stupid is the new clever. Iraq will be a far better place without a chorus of morons continually shrieking "My God, we're all going to die!" at the top of their voices.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why I Like The Single European Currency

The idea of the Euro as the single currency of the continent has much appeal to aesthetes like myself.

The notion of being able to spend the same money in the Orkneys as in Austria, in Madrid as in Milan, calls to mind the old notion of the Commonwealth of Man, a land of brotherhood and tranquility. With no monetary quarrels to divide us, why, truly we could stand as one continent united and say "We are men, born unique yet alike". It offers the hope of tranquility and harmony, where one can watch the sun set over Istanbul sipping raki as easily as watch it rise over Paris with espresso.

Sadly, the Euro mint have decided that the old Euro coins did not embody this ideal, and have recently minted fresh batches of coins.

This is the old 2 Euro piece:

A coin for connoisseurs, a design classic, non?

Sadly, there was one little problem with the inception of the currency - not everyone signed up to join. Presumably because the UK has made positive (if dishonest) sounds about doing so, we were included in the final design.

Alas, Norway emphatically rejected the opportunity and their land was struck from the image of the continent of Europe, shorn from it's border with Sweden.

Which left us with this...


Now that is what I call a design classic.

If the Royal Mint were to start printing twenty pound notes with such obvious innuendo prominently displayed, I'd be the most ardent defender of the currency in Britain.

How We Used To Do Things...

... Before the PC brigade and the human rights industry seized control in a stealth coup.

So, a German family may be evicted from their flat for praying too loudly.

"I really don't want to disturb the neighbors but the high volume is needed in the battle against the devil," Pierre D., the 42-year-old father of the Christian family, told Bild newspaper. He is fighting an eviction order in court."

And not a moment to soon - the Europeans understand the need for this kind of tough, no nonsense policy to combat troublemakers. Tony Blair should take a leaf out of their book, rather than letting the do-gooders flush this once-great country down the toilet. The Government has let this country go to the dogs, allowing insolent children to run riot, thumbing their noses at vicars and throwing bricks at our gazebos.

I remember when I lived on the Merwedplein in an Amsterdam suburb, underneath a family who hollered, banged about and thumped the floors morning, noon and night. I couldn't get a moment's peace for their incessant shouting and larking around.

I called the police and they soon sorted it out, carting them off in short order during the night. I never saw them again, but the police officer who arrested them, Oberscharf├╝hrer Karl Silberbauer, was unfailingly polite and punctual, despite the fact he must have been under a lot of strain, with the war and whatnot.

But the bleeding hearts would never allow that in this country, would they? Just say "boo-hoo, I had a hard upbringing" and the judge will let you off with a warning.

Too many rights for the criminals, none for the victims, that's how it is these days. Clip a child round the ear for insolence and it'll be you that gets a jail sentence.

Destroying our orchestras, disrespecting our patron saints, and letting in too many smelly foreigners.

I've a good mind to punch a badger, I really do.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

With Citizen Journalists Like This, Who Needs Terrorists?

Fresh off the back of the foiled Heathrow attacks (3000 dead! Another 9/11!) we have a fresh reason to begin soiling ourselves in humiliating terror.

No? You didn't hear then?

A plane! Was diverted! From Washington to Boston!

A woman was removed after going nuts with a screwdriver, a book of matches, a bottle of vaseline and two notes from Al-Qaeda, one in English, the other in Arabic!

You didn't hear then? Probably because it was typical blogosphere "kiss yo' ass goodbye, we all gonna die!" bullshit - a passenger suffered an attack of claustrophobia and struggled with the flight attendants. No screwdriver and no Arabic love letter from Al-Qaeda, although the part about the vaseline and the matches was spot on.

That didn't stop the usual suspects cranking up the fear machine of course (Quote: Alright, this gets the red ink...). Such an anti-climax - after a whole afternoon of blogger and commenters fluffing one another's hate hard-ons, a claustrophobic sixty year old is a bit of a turn off.

I guess some people are just going to have to put up with a bad case of the blue balls, but not to worry; I'm sure there'll be an actual attack at some point and then we can all enjoy being lectured about how complacent we were.

Oh, and how do the quivering wrecks of blogland excuse their drooling, ferocious Uncle Monty paroxysms?

If officials don't treat it as a possible terrorism situation, other operations on other planes could be moving along swimmingly while we're making sure we don't wrongly impugn a claustrophobic woman by suggesting the possibility of terrorism.

Mary Katherine Ham, ably filling the size threes of perpetually hysterical squeak-demon Michelle Malkin.

Now comes the lecturing and hectoring about "overreactions" and "anti-Muslim backlash."

Root causes, baby. We wouldn't overreact if you weren't always trying to murder us.

You must understand the non-Islamic point of view.

Which is, basically: Stop trying to kill us.

Thanks Ace, we get your point - even when you're wrong, you're right, and we're all idiots when we question your reasoning.

If so many of us are prepared to panic at incidents like this, do terrorists even need to bother attacking us?

Update!: I guess an addict just can't stop feeding the monkey.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Satire Is Dead, Long Live Satire

OK kids, I hope you're sitting comfortably, because this is a corker.

I think the image speaks for itself, but to put it in some context - this is the National Collector's Mint's stab at a commemoration of the 5th anniversity of the September 11 attacks.


Yes, that is a pop-up action on that coin. Yours for the princely sum of $29.95.

Whether you think that a flip-up/fall-down coin is the appropriate way to show your respects for those who died in this particular atrocity is quite up to yourself. I think it's the most tactless, idiotic, wrong-headed thing I've seen in the last five minutes.

I say five minutes, of course, because this frivolous piece of tat reminded me so strongly of the following blogospheric explosion of outrage.

This was the proposed design for the Flight 93 (plane that was crashed by terrorist shitbags on the same day, for those of you who don't remember the details) memorial in Pennsylvania.


What's the first thing you think of when you see this design?

If you see some trees in a pretty pattern, congratulations! You are a normal, rational human being.

If you see the red crescent, an image much beloved of the sons of Mohammed, execrations! You are a right-wing blogger! And the worst part is, it's facing Mecca. Those politically correct, hand-wringing liberals won't be happy 'til we're all living under an Islamofascist theocracy.

In the end, the designers were forced to sculpt a complete circle, proving that citizen journalism is indeed a noble and purposeful calling.

I haven't dredged the depths of the right-wingers today but I'm going to take a guess that the latest commemoration piece, which I think is tacky, tasteless and inappropriate, is not going to attract the same degree of approbrium.

All of which made me speculate, what kind of memorial would meet the approval of the lunatic element of right-wing bloggery?*

Then I remembered - I've already provided them with an icon that would slake both their boundless rage and their mania for melodramatic drivel.

*There's really no need for me to point out that, in right-Blogistan, the "lunatic fringe" get many millions of hits a year and are frequent guests on some of the country's biggest news channels. I just can't resist it.

(Many thanks to Paul for alerting me to the National Mint's touching tribute).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Striking Failures Leave Olmert Seething
Bitter Rivals Play Out Ill-Tempered Scoreless Draw
Group B "finely poised" in qualification race

SportGuardian, 13th August 2008

Israel 0 Lebanon 0
Att. 110,256


Israel's qualification campaign hung in the balance last night as angry fans booed their manager from the field at the final whistle.

In a fiery confrontation in which neither side held anything back, Israel dominated play, spending most of the game camped in the Lebanese half. It is evidence of the lack of incision in the Israeli attack that they were unable to convert their superior firepower into a victory.

Time and again the Israelis spurned chances, blasting into the crowd when it seemed easier to hit the target. Indeed, it could all have gone disastrously wrong as Lebanese substitutes unleashed a barrage of ferocious strikes in the final moments.

As expected, Israel adopted a very attacking formation, relentlessly bombarding Lebanon from both flanks and launching raids through the midfield. Most of these attacks faltered and as the game progressed Lebanon threatened to surprise everyone with a series of dangerous counterattacks.

"We underestimated their ability," was the verdict of Ehud Olmert, the Israeli manager. "The fans need to appreciate that there are no easy games at this level, especially local derbies like this. There's no doubt we see this as two points dropped rather than a point gained."

Olmert lamented his side's wayward shooting. "I thought we dominated for long spells and should have taken more from the game. Our play was hampered by some heavy challenges from the Lebanese, but we had them under siege at times."

"I thought we should've slaughtered them, to be honest."

Watching the Lebanese struggle desperately to survive repeated Israeli onslaughts, it was difficult to disagree.

Lebanese manager Hassan Nasrallah was more pleased by the result.

"We've proved to the world that we're a decent side, that we can go toe-to-toe with some of the biggest outfits in the region and match them for commitment".

"We were organised at the back and gave them one or two problems up front with some good counterattacking. They restricted us to long range efforts, but we don't have the same strength and depth in attack as they do".

It was a bad-tempered match in which several vicious fouls were committed by both sides. Tempers frayed as the Israelis struggled to break down frantic Lebanese resistance and it was only the timely intervention of the referee that stopped tensions from boiling over into all-out war. Games between the neighbouring states have had a frisson of resentment since their famous 1982 match-up in which Israel took an early lead, only for Lebanon to bring the house down late on with a thunderous equaliser.

This result seems to have shown up flaws in the seemingly invincible Israeli squad, who looked vulnerable to quick attacks on the break and had difficulty penetrating a well-organised defence.

With the return leg scheduled in Beirut next week and the possibility of difficult away trips to Damascus and Tehran, Israel are going to have a job on their hands to get their campaign back on track.

Match Stats - Shots on target

Israel - 276 Lebanon - 14

Shots off target

Israel - 14,144 Lebanon 11,976

Fouls Committed

Israel - 1120 Lebanon - 240

Referee/Assistants: K. Annan/J. Chirac/G.W. Bush

Have Your Say - 0870 2212 2154 - What did readers think of the game?

"I thought Israel surrendered, frankly. The referee didn't do us any favours either." Michelle Malkin, NY, Israel fan

"The Israelis aren't what they once were. We should've played them off the park. And into the sea, preferably." Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Tehran, Lebanon fan

"With the chances we had, we should've wiped 'em out. It should've been no contest, we could've flattened them, but now we're in deep trouble." Pam D'Atlas, NY, Israel fan

"Uhh, we wuz robbed. We'll stomp 'em next time." Charles Johnson, Berlin, Israel fan

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Fidel Castro Was My Homeboy...

...Until I saw the news today.

Fidel has always been a symbol of revolution, a proud testament to the world that one nation, at least, would not bend to the will of imperialist Yankees.

At least, that's what I used to think. Reading this was a revelation for me - the scales dropped from my eyes and I finally saw him for the evil scumbag he is.

This is the man himself, holding a newspaper to show that he is alive.


Wearing Adidas.

What a sick, twisted bastard. He should be tried at the Hague for crimes against fashion.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Self-Awareness? Sorry, Don't Know Him...

Spotted on Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds' site today:

IN THE MAIL: Amitai Etzioni's Public Intellectuals: An Endangered Species? I'd say it's a rapidly-expanding species, thanks to the growth of the blogosphere...

Does this guy even read the people he links to?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Now Is Not The Time For Cooler Heads To Prevail

There are times when every nation must confront its problems head on and with clear purpose. Whenever they have been called upon to do so, the people of Britain have proven that their courage is unwavering and their will unshakeable. At such times, we have stood together and declared that we will not be cowed, terrorised or beaten - we will stand as one and face such dangers as present themselves, unflustered, clear-eyed and resolute.

This is not such a time.

As responsible citizens, we know that there are other occasions, occasions when we must take leave of our senses and to fly into paroxysms of blind terror, panicking and soiling ourselves with fear. In such times, it is only right that we should immediately abandon all reason and place our faith in rumour and hearsay.

In uncertain times such as these, we must allow our leaders to take whatever action they see fit to combat the terrorists in our midst, whatever the cost to our freedom. In light of this latest threat from international terror, I say we shall gladly spend the rest of our lives with our hands in the air, if it will save but one life.

So we await the judgement of the national media, which will faithfully inform us of exactly how afraid we should be, no matter whether the threat level should inspire mere gibbering dread or claw-your-own-eyes-out-rather-than-witness-your-horrendous-death terroraclypse.

We should not allow ourselves to fall prey to the cynicism of London liberal types, who might point out the woeful record of the police in catching actual terrorists - around one in every hundred-plus persons arrested to date - nor should we muse on the fact that, just yesterday, John Reid delivered a keynote speech on the need to sacrifice liberty for security.

If we allow ourselves such thoughts, the terrorists have already won.

Nor should we speculate on the recent calamities that have befallen our noble War on Terror, or the fervent calls from the architects of that war for western action against Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. To do so would be to play into the hands of Bin Laden himself.

No, we must do as our grandparents before us did in the last great war against fascism - silently line up to be fingerprinted and photographed, then return to the shopping centres from whence we came, therein to purchase aspirational consumer products and holidays on the Mediterranean.

For this war will not be won by citizens fighting together against a common foe, nor by the bravery of our armed forces. This war will only be won if we unite as one and say unto our enemies with one voice, clearly and firmly -

"Okay, we're now so pantshittingly petrified that we've finally given up the ghost on democracy - this is Mr. Cheney. He's the big dog now. Sorry about your kids."

It is a sad reality of our age, but as we are all aware, 9/11 changed everything.

Except for the part about consumer products, we'll still buy them.

Update: Newsnight has just announced that the plan to blow up planes over the Atlantic involved these items -


Mark these tools of terrorism well, brothers and sisters, and be ready to beat to death with sticks those who carry such badges of fascism.

Update II: It's now official - news is the new satire.

A Book Everyone Would Like To Have Read...

... But no-one wants to read.

All hail Alan Johnson, UK Education Secretary, for he has decreed that children shall continue to struggle with the classics of the English literary cannon. Ending speculation to the contrary, Johnson stated that there is "no danger" of ditching Dickens or Eliot.

This is good news for the children of Great Britain, who will continue to be enthralled by the literary masters, but bad news for me, since I've never even cracked open one of Dickens' works and tomes such as "Jude the Obscure" and "Sons and Lovers" sit gathering dust on my shelves.

In seventeen years of studying English, I was required to read no Dickens, one Shakespeare, no Milton, none of the Brontes, one Jane Austen, no Lawrence... I'm a disgrace to the arts.

This got me thinking; which novels would kids truly engage with? I went to a state school and the chief lesson I learned was how to get through the day without being beaten senseless and thrown under a bus, so the task is difficult. Angst-filled period dramas are difficult to sell to teenage alcoholics who spend their evenings sniffing glue in bus shelters.

The initial choices are obvious: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby... Clearly, I'm not an original thinker.

So what else would I have appreciated as a nipper? I'd have loved Slaughterhouse Five, Perfume or Heart of Darkness, but I can't see them having universal appeal. Money by Martin Amis is a definite non-starter.

I'd love to suggest Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which is a sensational read - the author uses the pretensions of his narrator as an excuse to run riot with language, blowing clouds of purple prose in our faces to distract us from the distasteful narrative.

Vladimir Nabokov in Montreaux

Boy, that'd be a fun PTA meeting, wouldn't it?

Tell me, Mr. Rodent, what is this book you've given my daughter about?

If I'm being honest, I'd have to confess that as I've aged my reading habits have changed. It's commonly said that young men read fiction but tend increasingly towards history and biography as they age.

Not me, though - I like books with lots of big explosions and cool special effects.

I guess it means I'll have to grow old in a world where the common man quotes Don Quixote while I linger with only a bottle of Ice Dragon cider, forever stuck on the last level of Medal of Honour: Die, Nazi Bastards, Die!

Why Did I Choose Such An Idiotic Pen Name? (Redux)

Originally the second post on this page, from June. Somebody had to ask the question eventually.

So you’re probably wondering, why do I call myself the Flying Rodent?

The answer is simple, although not interesting in any way. A blogger must stake out a clear political position and stick to it no matter what inconvenient facts reality throws in his or her face.

So there I was surfing the net a couple of years ago and I came across the political compass. You‘re probably familiar with it - answer a set of questions on moral issues and it plots your political position on an ideological map, between the positions of libertarian/authoritarian and left/right. The final graph plots your position, relative to notable figures of history. I took the test and was deeply surprised by the result.

The questions are fairly simple, from “Should the government provide assistance for people fallen on hard times?”, to “Should we reintroduce the death penalty?” and “Are your wings a shield of steel?”.


As you can see, my results indicate that I’m a fairly radical leftist-libertarian, putting me smack in-between Mighty Mouse and Batfink. I had thought that I might tend closer towards Swamp Thing and the Hulk, as they were both big influences on my moral development. Plus, I also thought I was more of a centrist.

Nonetheless, the graph has spoken and it’s clear that, politically speaking, I am some form of flying rodent, hence the name.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Daddy, Can We Fly The Cobra Gunship Next?

And I thought TBogg was just kidding about the concept of a privatised military.

From yesterday's Washington Post: Army Ponders Amusement Venue, Hotel at Ft. Belvoir

"The possibility of adding what county officials call a military theme park arises as about 22,000 employees prepare to be transferred to Fort Belvoir in the next five years because of the federal base realignment and closure recommendations, designed to save $49 billion nationwide.

The Army is considering the entertainment venue to help offset the cost of the $300 million museum, which a spokesman said is scheduled to open in 2013. No federal funds are being sought for the museum, but Fairfax has donated $240,000.

"You can command the latest M-1 tank, feel the rush of a paratrooper freefall, fly a Cobra Gunship or defend your B-17 as a waist gunner," according to the proposal by Universal City Property Management III of Orlando. The company has no connection to NBC-Universal, which owns Universal Studios, a spokeswoman said yesterday."


Wonder how this will go down with the guys always so keen to point out examples of "Palestinian Child Abuse"?




Check out the cool camo on that kid! Well, anything the Palestinians can do, we can do better!

(Warning - this is a very loud video of small children firing enormous machine guns - if you're at work, dig out the headphones).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Director Stone, Buoyed By Success, To Remake "Gone With The Wind"
EW obtains script

Entertainment World, 8th August 2006

In a move that has shocked Hollywood, controversial director Oliver Stone has announced his intention to remake the classic 1939 blockbuster "Gone With The Wind".

"Over the years I've given free rein to my artistic vision," Stone told a stunned press conference. "For too long I've been selfishly making movies according to my own opinions and tastes."

"Following on from the success of my last picture, I've decided it's time to get back in touch with the issues that concern real people."

Stone's last movie, World Trade Center, received rave reviews from many critics, despite fears that the director's well-known political views might overshadow the film's artistic merits. Although criticism has not been entirely positive, industry insiders believe that Stone has enjoyed the warm reception.

Stone did not indicate who would appear in his remake, but stated that he "had some people in mind". He later refused to deny or confirm rumours that Lindsey Lohan was being lined up to play the role of Scarlett O'Hara.

In a sensational scoop, Entertainment World has been anonymously passed what appears to be a script for Stone's production. In a move that will raise eyebrows among fans of the original, it seems that Stone will trim the movie's famous length to 130 mins and will do away with many core elements of the plot.

The opening of the movie has been extended, and a lengthy church scene added. The remake will focus on themes of "family, religion and personal responsibility", and the role of Mammy has been considerably reduced.

The new script recasts Rhett Butler, previously sceptical about the Confederate cause, as a hardbitten cavalry sergeant with a fierce moral code of duty and loyalty. The middle third of the movie will include many dramatic battle scenes, all of which appear to culminate in Sergeant Butler cradling the head of a dying comrade.

The shooting of a Union soldier by the heroine is to become a pivotal incident, as what had been a brief scene is expanded to a gruelling fifteen minute life and death struggle, from which Scarlett emerges triumphant; tear-stained, yet defiant. Her flashbacks to this event are a dominant part of the remainder of the film, as she struggles to reconcile her reluctance to take human life with the grim understanding that violence is sometimes necessary.

But the most shocking departure from the original screenplay occurs soon afterwards, as the Butlers' young daughter, tragically killed in an accident in the 1939 version, survives. The movie ends not on the line made famous by Clark Gable - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" - but "Frankly, my dear, we must stay together for the good of our quadraplegic daughter".

Pundits were enthusiastic about Mr. Stone's latest project, although one industry insider was less effusive.

"Has he gone nuts? I know Castro bought the farm, but this looks like a mid-life crisis".

The Outrage Machine In Action

Or, How To Start A Frenzy of Ignorant, Disingenuous Bullshit.

I'm amazed at the tenacity of perennially apopleptic screech-demon Michelle Malkin. No subject is too trivial or inane for her - if she stopped blogging, I would have to follow suit, since I would have nothing to talk about.

Malkin's audience, to the uninitiated, exists in a state of perpetual, unfocused outrage. She is merely the huntmaster, baiting the baying hounds with a few lumps of red meat before blowing her high-pitched horn and unleashing them upon whichever target she has decreed traitorous that day.

And this one is a beauty - by sheer coincidence, it's Armando Iannucci's satirical current affairs comedy, Time Trumpet. The show is supposedly set in the future and looks back at major news stories that have yet to occur.

The crime of choice - laughing at terrorist attacks.




Disclosure: I haven't seen the show, just the clips on the site. Malkin, of course, has only seen this one clip. The skit shows the "Annual Terrorism Awards", fronted by two real British TV personalities - two of the nominees are pictured below.





What do you imagine Michelle's thoughts are on these rib-ticklers?

"I still pause, once a day, to think about what happened (on 9/11) and how it has changed my outlook on life... I cannot fathom how the BBC, the once-revered British network of supposedly serious journalists, could pull a sick stunt like this."

"...Oh, and by the way, recall how sensitive the BBC was about not offending Muslims over the Mohammed cartoons."

I believe this is a "hoist by one's own petard" moment, as the once-revered, supposedly serious pundit betrays the lack of research which characterises the blogosphere.

If Malkin had bothered to visit the site in question, she might have seen two real BBC newsreaders introduce a clip on exactly the subject of the cartoon protests, in which actual footage is intercut with shots of supposedly Muslim men with beards waving the following signs...

- BEHEAD THE INFIDEL AND CACKLE AT HIS STUMP
- CUT OFF THE TITS AND BALLS OF THE APOSTATES AND FEED THEM TO THE PROSELYTES
- SET FIRE TO THE ENEMY’S FLAG/ JUMP UP AND DOWN ON IT THUS EXTINGUISHING IT/ RELIGHT FLAG/ REPEAT AS NECESSARY
- DEATH TO EVERYTHING AFTER THE 8TH CENTURY
- SLAUGHTER THE LAUGHERS
- HUNT DOWN THE SARCASTIC TOWNIES AND GAS THEM LIKE BADGERS
- KILL ISLAMAPHOBES. QUEERS ESPECIALLY.
- JEWS GLISTENING MALIGNANT POLYPS

Ooops.

Futher silliness: "We have the video.... Watch and listen as the audience laughs at the images".

If Malkin had bothered to think before crying "Havoc!", she might have noticed it's meant to be the laughter of the audience at the award ceremony, i.e. it's canned laughter.

Whether you think any of this is funny is up to you, but I thought it was worth a small chuckle, rather than a belly laugh. As is usually the case with British satire shows, the comedy does not spring from the subject material but the context in which it is displayed. The target is not the victims of terror, as Michelle would like you to think, but the inane treatment of the subject by the media. Think of it a bit like the Daily Show without the punchlines.

The very idea that there might be terrorism awards, and that those awards would be attended by the great and the good of British society, is itself patently absurd.

But why listen to my opinion? Let's let Michelle hang herself by quoting the Beeb's response...

"The clips have to be seen in the context of the whole series", said a BBC spokeswoman. "... It is a satire. The scenarios are so ludicrous that anyone who complained would be making a fool of themselves."

(Crickets, tumbleweeds)

Malkin then provides the BBC's complaints address and invites her readers to disprove the BBC's theory. I imagine that the sheer intellectual prowess of the complaints will suffice to intimidate the Beeb into pulling the show.

To paraphrase Marshall MacLuhan, as seems to be the fashion these days, why are blogs now considered a medium?

Because, of course, they are neither rare nor well done.

Update!: Unreason alert - FOX News asks: "Are Saddam's WMD's now in Hesbollah's Hands?".

Monday, August 07, 2006

Christ, All This Politics Doesn't Half Get You Down

To cheer you all up, here's a link to the Time Trumpet. Keep an eye on it, it'll update weekly.

Further Iannucci genius - vs. Republican Convention 2004, vs. the Tory Party and Gregory the Village Sniper.

Well, it cheers me up, at any rate.

Did Somebody Say "Weeaboo?"

...'Cos I think I just heard someone say "Weeaboo".

Today's flick through the propaganda pages has provided an instructive lesson in what life would be like if the blogosphere ever managed to replace print and television journalism. Can anyone guess what today's hot topic is among the right-wing citizen journalists? Let's take a look at the news...

Air strikes, ground clashes continue in Lebanon as UN wrangles over draft resolution.

Oil prices hit new high after closure of one of the United States' largest oil fields.

Fidel Castro "abdication" looking dodgier by the minute.

Nope, none of the above. The big news today is that Reuters published a dodgy picture of the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Lebanon. It had been photoshopped to make the smoke appear a bit blacker.

I agree that impartial news agencies should be held to account for screw-ups, but we've got a genuine feeding frenzy on our hands here. I've taken a tour of the usual suspects and they are all, without exception, focusing on this story, sniffing obsessively at each other's latest "scoops" like a pack of excitable dogs. It's Christmas for idiots.

The attention this is getting makes it the biggest story of the blogosphere so far this year. But why this story, when we live in such interesting times? A few reasons spring to mind.

One, following their succesful termination of Dan Rather's career, they're drunk with their own power, pulled helplessly along with the surge of the crowd. When a Reuters exec inevitably steps down, there are going to be a few bloody noses as the big dogs jostle to claim the credit. Additionally, it's a great chance to get out the old piano and gather round for a sing-along of that much-loved ditty of the doofus, "The Liberal Media Done Stole Our Good News From The Middle-East".

Two, they hate big media like fire. This hatred will not stop the top turkeys of the net chasing after TV appearances and newspaper interviews like the Keystone Kops, of course. I imagine Charles Johnson has already dirtied up the TV screens of FOX News viewers, spouting self-aggrandising bullshit like an industrial self-aggrandising bullshit machine.

Three, if they weren't talking about this, they might have to devote their attention to what the people who don't get their news from fanatical right-wing propagandists are reading about. That'll be the vast majority of humanity, incidentally.

Iraq civil war has already begun, US troops say.

Hezbollah rockets kills 15, resolution not in sight. Rocket attack "Like nothing you can imagine".

Republican Congressman to step down following allegations of corruption.

Iran says it will ignore UN deadline on uranium program, will use 'oil weapon' if pushed.

US soldiers plotted rape, murder says Accused.

Tenth UK soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Nasrallah - "Down but not out".

I hate to throw fuel on the fire, since attention is all that any blogger craves. I could respond to this with some pithy put-downs and an essay on the mendacity of right-blogistan, but why bother? Better just to say that the furore over the Reuters photo boils down to this...

...this...

...and this...

...to the power of ten.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

You Can Take a Whore to Culture...

... and ply him with drink, but you can't stop him plugging the shows he's been to see.

Off work this week, so I've been taking the opportunity to sun myself, drink beer in the afternoon with friends and take in a few shows.

It'll be old news to anyone living in Britain, but the Edinburgh Festival is about to start. To the uninitiated, it's one of Europe's biggest arts festivals, taking in music, theatre, comedy, film, dance... something for everyone. I wouldn't usually propogandise for the organisers, but I've been very impressed by everything I've seen so far.

This is my favourite part of the festival, i.e. before it's officially started. This means that the tourists haven't arrived en masse, it's possible to buy tickets for shows and desperate directors try to push free tickets on unsuspecting punters.

As I have done in previous years, I managed to get a ticket for the biggest gypsy guitar act in the Jazz and Blues Festival - Martin Taylor and friends this year, doing a bit of their own stuff in amongst the Django Reinhardt standards. As always, it was outstanding. Has anyone else ever noticed how virtuoso guitar players barely seem to move their hands on the frets? When I play I look like a demented seal slapping a stick.

I caught the preview show on Thursday, which showcases fifteen of the Assembly Rooms' top acts - move quickly to get tickets for comedian Jason Byrne, who stole the show as MC, but also loony samurai action in Chanbara, the adorable Maria Bamford and the stage production of Midnight Cowboy. I also can't say enough nice things about the Soweto Gospel Choir, whose show looks mindblowingly entertaining.

To anyone who's going to be in Edinburgh I'll have to recommend two shows created by and starring the very talented Chas Early - "Moon the Loon" and "Bill Hicks: Slight Return". The Hicks show was both hilarious and a little creepy, since Mr. Early managed a spookily accurate impersonation while performing his own material.

The Keith Moon show was my favourite so far and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves. Performed on a tiny stage within touching distance of the audience, it's set just before Moon was kicked out of The Who in the mid-seventies.

Early plays Moon with admirable charisma, capturing both his appeal and his unpleasantness, while two other actors variously play the roles of his wife, the psychiatrist and his receptionist, Moon's gofer Neil Boland and Mr and Mrs Singh, the voices in Moon's head who urge him to commit self destructive acts. In fact, forget I mentioned the Singhs, you'll have to see for yourself.

I was gripped from the start. The action shifts ingeniously back and forth in time, telling the story of Moon's descent into mental illness and his alienation of his friends and family. It's a great credit to the cast and production crew that it manages to remain very funny while still exploring some very dark themes.

All this wonderful culture, and there was a twenty-man punch-up right next to me at the Spiegeltent last night! The Festival has it all - wit, pathos, flashes of genius and brutal slapstick violence. Just don't expect to show up at a random show and be automatically entertained, quality varies wildly.

Last but not least, Jerry Sadowitz does not need my assistance to plug his show. Go see the man, but only if you're not easily offended.

He was famously punched out by a Canadian at the Montreal Comedy Festival when he greeted the crowd with a cheery "Hello, moose-fuckers!" and followed it up with "I'll tell you why I hate Canada, half of you speak French, and the other half let them."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

God Apologises for Slaughter of Firstborn
Domestic Scribes Note "Discrepancies"; Blame Egyptians

Ancient Egyptian Times,
2nd of Akhet, 1628 BC

In a statement released today, God apologised for His decision to send the Angel of Death to slaughter of the firstborn male children of Egypt.

"IN MY DIVINE WRATH I MAY HAVE ERRED" the Lord's statement read, "HAD MY INFORMATION INDICATED THAT MY ACTIONS WOULD LEAD TO THE DEATHS OF SO MANY CHILDREN, THE ANGEL OF DEATH WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN UNLEASHED".


God apologises, rages against "lunatic" scribes.

God stressed that he would not have been forced to extreme measures had Pharoah not insisted on keeping his chariots in urban areas.

"HAD PHAROAH RESPONDED TO THE PLEAS OF MY CHILDREN FOR FREEDOM THIS UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT NEED NOT HAVE OCCURRED. BLAME FOR THIS TRAGEDY LIES WITH PHAROAH."

Pharoah, whose firstborn child was one of the victims of the Lord's wrath, could not be contacted for comment.

Several domestic scribes have raised concerns over the incident however, pointing to discrepancies in the official story. They question the lengthy interval between the Angel of Death's smiting and the great wail "such as will never be heard again" that echoed through the cities of Egypt. They further accuse Pharoah of exaggerating and cynically inflating the death toll, and of milking the incident in an attempt to smear the Lord. Others have stated that Pharoah deliberately passed flawed intelligence to the Almighty to encourage Him to slay the children.

"You know who really killed those people is Pharoah. Pharoah killed those people." said the Demagogue Limbaughses.

"Pharoah put those people in those buildings and brought the chariots in close by, knowing full well that the chariots would be targeted. That wail was not heard for eight hours after the Angel of Death's visit. What do you bet that Pharoah finished the job that the Angel of Death did not actually complete? What do you bet they killed their own people for the PR aspect? These people cannot compete militarily with any agrarianised nation, so they have to fight the PR and the spin war. And it is amazing to me to see how easily the Babylonian and world media is misled".

When questioned about these claims, the Lord became wrathful.

"THESE PEOPLE ARE FUCKING NUTS. IT WAS ME THAT DID IT, END OF STORY. I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY THESE LUNATICS KEEP TRYING TO MISREPRESENT MY ACTIONS".

The Angel Gabriel, analysing the Lord's decision, stated that His overreaction was counterproductive.

"The Lord must examine Himself and investigate the recent mistakes made in inflicting plagues".

I'm So Sorry...

Readers of my previous post on this page, "The Red Terror, Reborn!", may have formed the impression that I believed that Mr. Tommy Sheridan (pictured below) had committed the acts of sexual deviancy of which he was accused.

In light of Mr. Sheridan's victory in his libel action against the News of The World, I would like to stress that I have always believed that he was entirely innocent and that all accusations of drug abuse, three-in-a-bed sex and swinging were entirely false. The success of Mr. Sheridan's case is a victory for the working man against a dishonest newspaper which grows fat upon the iniquities of minor celebrities and politicians.

I would like to apologise to Mr. Sheridan, who I described as an alleged "demon shagger" and implied had taken part in "eye-wateringly filthy conduct". I now realise that Mr. Sheridan is a man of unimpeachable moral rectitude and would like to send him my best wishes for the future.