Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Now Wash Your Hands

Rory had tried to hold it in until full time, but the urge was too strong.  His bulging bladder strained against his jeans, stretching and complaining, distracting him from the game and his pint.

Sighing, he double-timed it towards the pub toilet and stood at the far urinal, gazing absently into the tiled wall.  The tiles bored him within seconds and he began to coax the tiny cakes of soap into a jerky pishdance, deftly hopping one over the other and back again.

It was then that Haircut and Specs entered, honking loud blokey banter about nothing.

Reflexively, Rory's spine snapped him upright into a nonchalant stance with the supernatural speed that only a man caught chasing cludgie-cakes with his dick can muster.

And then, showing no respect for decades of unspoken male convention, Haircut and Specs insolently took up positions next to Rory at the first and second urinal.

Their audacity stung Rory so badly, pinned between Specs and the wall as he was, that he began to lose his flow.  Haircut's choice could be forgiven thanks to the modest one-pisser interval, but Specs'?  An empty cubicle five feet away, and yet this guy had the effrontery to take the middle position, right next to another man!

Why not just give Rory's arse a cheeky pinch, while he was at it?

Haircut and Specs were still yammering at each other, talking bikes now.  Rory focused on the bowl as if the drama unfolding there was the most compelling spectacle he'd ever beheld.  He was in uncharted territory - if one of these pricks asked him a question, the situation could hurtle out of this unsettling homoerotic zone and into the full George Michael without any warning at all.

Specs finished quickly, shaking himself off and heading for the basins.  Specs was a sipper, Rory realised with satisfaction, disdaining the more manly bucket-session.  Rory steeled himself for the combat to come, keeping his jet strong, straight and steady.

Now that Haircut was the only contender, Rory risked a sidelong peek at his foe.  Haircut was leaning against the wall on one outstretched arm, palm flat on the tiles.

The Fuhrer piss!  A bad sign, Rory thought, straining to maintain momentum.  Haircut was plainly made of stronger stuff than his fallen comrade.  Rory was drawing on his last reserves now, forcing his muscles to their most heroic limits of endurance.  He gritted his teeth and willed himself onwards to victory.

And then, it was over.  Haircut's strength collapsed and he shook, retucked and made for the door, too cowed by defeat to face the basins.

Yes! Rory shouted inwardly, letting out a last exultant splash of triumph.  There can be only one!

Look upon my wazz, ye shitey, and despair! 

Humming a little tune, he shook himself off and walked over to the sinks.  The face in the smudged mirror beamed back at him, lined and tracked with a telltale tracery of tiny burst veins.  He ignored the greying hair, the gently sagging flesh, and stared into his own eyes, radiating confidence.

"There's life in the old dog yet!" he announced to the empty room.  "Woof!"

But as he started towards the door, a sign above the sinks caught his eye.

NOW WASH YOUR HANDS, it said. 

He complied happily, whistling.  A colossus of steely machismo he might be, Rory told himself, but he wasn't a barbarian.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What Do We Bicker About, When We Bicker About Terrorism?

I've got less time on my hands for internet bickering than I used to, but I am a seasoned veteran.  If you're reading this, you're probably a bit handy at the internet bickering yourself.

So let's skip straight to the main course - what do we bicker about, when we bicker about terrorism?  More or less everything except terrorism, is my suspicion. 

A few observations about the responses I've seen to yesterday's bloodcurdling horror in Woolwich, starting with 

When a guy who has just beheaded a man while shouting about Allah is shown explaining that he did it because of violence perpetrated by British soldiers in "Our lands", it's probably okay to call him a Jihadist or an Islamist terrorist-wannabe. 

You'd think this would be uncontroversial, given that beheading-while-shouting-about-God is one of the Jihadi's favourite pastimes, and that publicly justifying yourself with standard Jihadi boo-hoo can reasonably be described as "Jihadist behaviour". 

But you'd be wrong.  

Now, our legal system and its presumption of innocence is one of the things that makes this country great, but we aren't all lawyers in court, so we can draw conclusions as we see fit.  

I expect it's possible that these arseholes were crazy* wannabe-Glorious Warriors of God, but we all know that the sole requirement for being a Jihadi is saying that you are one.  That is, after all, the whole point of Al-Qaeda and its offshoots - anyone can join in the fun, by declaring that you want to do so**.

There are times when it's appropriate to reserve judgement; there are times when the best course is quiet reflection until all the facts emerge. 

And then, there are times when a man bloodily decapitates another in the street while shouting Jihadist slogans.  At moments like this, a rush to judgement is probably justifiable.  If anything, it's reasons to doubt Jihadomentalist lunacy that may need backing up in this scenario. 

Also, 

While it's certainly true that 99.99% of Muslims are not bloodthirsty Jihadi arseholes, it is also necessary to point out that a sufficiently worrying number are.  

It's great to see how many people are at pains to note that most Muslims are no happier with psycho-murderers than any section of the the UK's populace.  Go on folks - there are plenty who need to be reminded of facts like this, and reminded often. 

Nonetheless, I do have to point out that Jihadi arseholes are a conspicuous and alarming problem whose ability to sow hatred and discord is wildly disproportionate to their meagre numbers, and that this has to be discussed with clear eyes and no illusions.  

Going apeshit every time anybody mentions the loony, supremacist Islamist theories popular among most who commit these very specific murderous acts isn't helping the situation and is probably helping those who want to inflame it.

Yes, there are "media narratives" and people looking to exploit this or that, but neither I nor the public at large are much worried that "the media" are going to set off nailbombs in our cities.

Yes, there are other forms of terrorism, and "terrorism" is a much-abused word.

Nonetheless, back when Anders Breivik quoted Melanie Phillips and her cohort of pant-shitting imitators in his loopy theories about imminent Marxo-Jihadical genocide, we all thought it was hilarious when the lot of them started backpedalling away from their own whiffy theories like roid-raging cyclists while screeching about censorship. 

Still though, I think it's worth noting that when Breivik said he was prompted to action by his favourite doom-mongering race theorists, he may just have been telling the truth, much as David Copeland probably was a Nazi scumbag.

Which brings us to... 

When lots of criminals keep telling you their crimes were motivated by (x), then their crimes are more likely to have been motivated by (x) than by whatever theory you have just pulled out of your arse. 

We've seen this one before - some twatty little gimp stands up in court and says that yes, he committed acts of terrorism because yes, he's a Soldier of God in a war that encompasses Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

And folk stand around stroking their chins wondering what he can possibly have meant by such a statement.  
Well, look.  I'm aware that Islamism didn't spring into being fully-formed from nowhere; I'm also aware that it barely needs grievances to justify whatever bugfuck nuts acts of mayhem and destruction it wants to commit.  I'm also aware that it won't go away if we would only tickle its ears and give it a saucer of milk.

But I have to say that, when folk insist on continuing to kill themselves and other people and then justifying it by calling it revenge for this or that disastrous foreign policy catastrofuck, they probably mean that they're angry enough about our foreign policy to kill and die over it.

This is one of the great unsayables, for much of this country's pundit class.  To note it is to attract accusations that you're saying that you deserve to be killed, and so on.  Sadly for fannies of this ilk, this issue is totally impervious to our feelings about it.  

Or, in shorter form - just because a man's statements are highly inconvenient for your personal foreign policy preferences, doesn't mean they aren't true

And lastly, a favourite topic of mine... 

What the fuck are we still doing in Afghanistan?

Let's play devil's advocate and accept the standard hawkish boilerplate.  Let's assume that a vast section of the world's Muslims are deranged with lunatic, murderous psychopathy. 

Well then, what? Do we intend to make war upon a billion people and if so, what proportion of that population are we going to have to splatterate in order to make the remainder see sense? 

And if you can put an exact deaths-to-revelation ratio on this then how, exactly, is a temporary occupation of the arse-end of the Islamic world meant to remedy that situation? 

And of course, it won't.  But then few of our bickerings have really had much to do with reality anyway, this last ten years or so.


*And it actually is okay to use the word "insane" to describe the behaviour of people who do things that we think are insane, even if we don't think that those people are literally insane.  

**This is the point, often made, that had pundits twiddling fingers at their temples when Adam Curtis raised it but not, curiously, when Jason Burke does likewise.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Biased Against Everyone and Everything, Everywhere

"Nigel Farage has said he hung up on an interview with BBC Scotland because the line of questioning "was insulting and unpleasant"... He told the BBC he did not regret the interview's abrupt ending, adding "I wasn't very impressed with it..." - BBC, 17 May 2013
"Asked about how many elected representatives he has in Scotland, Mr Farage said: "Absolutely none, but rather more than the BBC. We could have had this interview in England a couple of years ago, although I wouldn't have met with such hatred as I'm getting from your questions.  Frankly, I've had enough of this interview, goodbye." - Telegraph, 17 May 2013
 "Newsnight Scotland has been accused of being biased towards the SNP.  Labour MP Ian Davidson called it "News-Nat" throughout an interview...  Record, 9 August 2012
"Labour have hit out at BBC Scotland for refusing to broadcast their conference this weekend... Labour MSP David Whitton said "This is a remarkable decision and demonstrates a serious lack of balance from the BBC..." - Record, 17 March 2011
"SNP anger at "enemies" in the BBC boils over...  Stewart Stevenson, a former minister and close friend of Alex Salmond, tweeted: "Once is happenstance. twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action – Ian Fleming." - Telegraph, 7 March 2013  
"SNP go on attack against BBC Scotland over EU interview...  The SNP unleashed an extraordinary offensive on the BBC yesterday as ministers scrambled to salvage their claims a separate Scotland would enjoy an easy entry to the European Union. - Telegraph, 28 January 2013

I could go on and on here, since these boo-hoo-woe-is-us assaults on BBC Scotland are more or less endless - but I'm sure you get my drift. 

Rather than seriously entertaining the notion that BBC interviewers are viciously biased against Nigel Farage, UKIP and the Union, we should ask ourselves why, exactly, a man who can't hear a few incontestible facts without a hilarious meltdown can somehow keep his shit together on UK-wide media.  

Because it should be obvious that any politician who responds to being asked how many representatives UKIP has in Scotland with "None, which is more than the BBC" then hanging up, is not exactly an arch-media manipulator.