May 292009

ZOMG, it’s like Israel is Darth Vader and the US is Emperor Palpatine! Only not at the beginning, when he was our loyal slave, but at the end, when the disloyal fucker is about to stab us in the back.

Actually, that’s not a metaphor that works well at all. But goodness – I really, really, truly thought Hillary and Barack would be uniters, not dividers, and that once they put their totally reasonable arguments to the Israelis and the Palestineans, everybody would see that carrying on fighting was really silly and settle down for a shared meal of milk and honey.

I feel so… disillusioned…

May 272009

I am not a fundamentalist homobigot,’ says author, ‘but gay marriage will ruin society.’

As kinship fails to be relevant to gays, it will become fashionable to discredit it for everyone. The irrelevance of marriage to gay people will create a series of perfectly reasonable, perfectly unanswerable questions: If gays can aim at marriage, yet do without it equally well, who are we to demand it of one another? Who are women to demand it of men? Who are parents to demand it of their children’s lovers–or to prohibit their children from taking lovers until parents decide arbitrarily they are “mature” or “ready”? By what right can government demand that citizens obey arbitrary and culturally specific kinship rules–rules about incest and the age of consent, rules that limit marriage to twosomes? Mediocre lawyers can create a fiction called gay marriage, but their idealism can’t compel gay lovers to find it useful. But talented lawyers will be very efficient at challenging the complicated, incoherent, culturally relative survival from our most primitive social organization we call kinship. The whole set of fundamental, irrational assumptions that make marriage such a burden and such a civilizing force can easily be undone.

Sounds good to me. Bring on teh gays! So where’s the problem, then?

Oh. Right:

There is no doubt that women and children have suffered throughout human history from being over-protected and controlled. The consequences of under-protection and indifference will be immeasurably worse. In a world without kinship, women will lose their hard-earned status as sexual beings with personal autonomy and physical security. Children will lose their status as nonsexual beings.

Women are sexual beings first, personally autonomous second, and physically secure third. This is our hard-earned status, achieved for us by the institution of marriage. Tell me, Mr Reasonable Not-Bigot: where is the institution that places women as personally autonomous beings first and, I might add, only, leaving the sexual nature and physical safety up to the individual decisions of the woman herself? And your view of children is decidedly weird, too: far from being autonomous human individuals, they are mere ‘nonsexual beings’ only, tiny mobile It-objects running around, the protection of whose genitals is a matter for society to enforce through the rigid kinship system marriage imposes.

I particularly enjoy this facet of his disquisition:

But without social disapproval of unmarried sex–what kind of madman would seek marriage?…Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage–much less three, as I have done–were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom.

That’s right. After stating that ‘Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood–and sexual accessibility–is defined,’ he then shows us that, actually, marriage is a nice check, too, on the out-of-control humping men would engage in if there were no sanctions for doing so.

The author’s view of humanity is loathsome. Women are not sex toys, children are not objects, and men are not mindless dick-pistons. Jesus.

This article is the best argument in favour of gay marriage I have ever encountered. I say again, bring on teh gays. They’re a hell of a lot pleasanter than this knob.

May 192009

Independent regulation of all remuneration of MPs – that’s it?

(1) How fucking embarrassing. The governors of our nation admit they cannot be trusted to govern themselves.

(2) Is it really possible to have ‘statutory independent regulation’? I mean, who is going to choose these regulators? From what funds will they be paid? From public funds? In which case, are they really independent?

(3) If they will be paid from public funds, how much hiring and paying and funding of this new, presumably civil service, branch of the state is going to go on? When this came up in a discussion with libertarians on Saturday afternoon, a figure of £600,000pa was posited. Small change in terms of spending, but surely part of the whole scandal is that public money is being spent not only too much, but unwisely!

(4) Brown’s little press conference would have been a hell of a lot better without his autoencomium. His own Bill of Rights and Duties (ugh), and New Labour’s devolution, reform of the House of Lords, etc., etc. Nobody cares or wants to hear that sort of boasting in this situation.

(5) Someone has asked what the definition of ‘breaking the rules’ is, under which MPs will not be able to stand in the next election. Brown has no answer. I suspect that since the running excuse is that all these expenses were within the rules – and, indeed, it appears many of the most obnoxious ones were – we will see bunches of these bastards standing again, more’s the pity. (That, or Brown intends to use this ploy to neutralise his political enemies.)

(6) Brown has no response to a remark about how the public are saying that, if they did this stuff, they’d go to jail; the example given is of a shoplifter offering to return or pay for his booty. Brown’s claim: not an equivalent situation, because Hazel Blears acted within the rules. No ‘discipline’ for her then. Aha.

(7) A radio reporter-type has said Brown should call a general election. His response: it is the system at fault, not the Government, since ‘all parties must take responsibility for this.’ Never mind that the real reason for an election is the total collapse of public confidence in government. When the government cannot govern – as it appears not to have done over the past three weeks – a new democratic mandate is needed. Brown must be hugely delighted on the inside that the European elections are happening so soon, as it means the public will take out their justified rage and exercise their democratic privilege there – where it will have no effect on Labour’s continuing grasp-of-dead-hand hold on the UK. Once the voters have vented their spleen on MEPs, perhaps their disaffection will be purged! (He hopes.)

(8) A question about the Tamil protestors. Brown defends freedom of assembly. [Stopped listening; laughing too hard.]

(9) Brown keeps smiling – what the fuck has he got to smile about? He’s also leaning on the lectern in a way that, I’m sure, Obama the Orator never would. This bizarre body language actually makes him look… bored.

Speaking of which, I’m bored now too. Most of the snide questions I was droolingly anticipating have been asked, and Brown is now wittering like a madman: a maximum of words, a minimum of meaning, and enough use of the passive voice that, if this were transcribed into Latin, the page would be littered with -turs.

Make that turds. Which represent exactly what Brown, his speech, all other MPs, and the whole rotten edifice of this state are worth.

May 182009

I am proud to announce that, in the wake of all this MPs’ expenses crap, my own MP is clean.

Adam Afriye, the handsome chap, gets his own little page in the Telegraph filed under ‘the saints.’

Is it a bit sad that this feels to me like a victory? It’s almost as if, insofar as my MP represents me (despite my lack of the franchise), I can gloat in the faces of the rest of you poor bastards: ‘My MP doesn’t claim for a second home, even though his constituency is much further from Westminster than some of those who do! In fact, he doesn’t even claim for his travel costs into London!

Like a devoted sport fan, I achieve vicarious self-satisfaction; my chosen representative has caused me no shame.

The fact that I feel a sense of accomplishment because my MP has done what he’s supposed to do actually makes me a tiny bit sick. But oh well: we must be appreciative of the small pleasures life affords us.

In other news, David Cameron has called for the dissolution of Parliament. This would thrill me with an excitement not known to other Americans, who have not experienced the cut-and-thrust immediacy of British politics, were it not for the fact that:

Mr Cameron has demanded an election many times in the past year. But he used the expenses scandal, exposed by The Daily Telegraph, to repeat his call.

Oh, well – again. Nothing new there. [heaves great sigh] Won’t somebody please start a revolution?

Well, and so perhaps someone is. I’d be there, were it not for a prior commitment that, oddly enough, also involves donning a black-and-white uniform…

May 182009

I do so love parables. What is this one about, do you think?

Indulge me this little fable of our times…

There once was a man, a young man, a man afflicted with a passionate desire. He wanted nothing more in all the world than to play music on the violin. He never had much time for music as a child, but as he grew up and hit his teenage years he found himself seized by a powerful and unsettling urge to play the violin. Nothing but a violin would do. This was not like him, so he thought, and he worried about how others would react to him should they find out that he harboured this forbidden desire.

The society he lived in did not much care for music, and treated it rather strictly – as something to be played only by chartered professionals who owned their own instruments. It was not despised, by and large, though some fringe lunatics certainly did despise it, and when kept within certain bounds it was generally accepted. It was certainly not something to be discussed outside the auditorium or the concert hall, however, especially with those too junior to acquire an instrument or seek accreditation. Furthermore, in a cruel twist of fate, the violin in particular was deeply frowned upon, especially for boys. Nobody wanted their son to grow up to be a violinist, though daughters were actively encouraged to take up the instrument. Boys were not allowed to seek accreditation for a violin charter, though many who wanted to kept playing on the fringes of society, outside the official remit of the state musicians’ guild. There was prejudice, but it seemed to be getting more tolerable…

I’d provide a link, but…meh. Not going to happen.

Teaching Roman roads

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May 112009

An aside by Leg-Iron sparked off the frothing spite this morning:

Ordinary people who, as any wander along any street will demonstrate, are mostly idiots who will believe any damn thing they’re told. I have convinced several people that the Romans built straight roads because they hadn’t invented steering. There are people out there now who believe it and who are probably spreading it. When it ends up on your child’s history curriculum, that was me. Sorry about that.

He’s talking about the evidence for ‘third hand smoke,’ which apparently consists of a public survey of idiots; but my immediate reaction was: ‘Ha! They don’t teach the Romans in the history curriculum.’

I’m wrong, of course; the Roman influence in Britain is there, bold as brass, in the national curriculum (provided the teacher chooses to teach the Romans rather than the possible alternatives of Anglo-Saxons or Vikings):

9. An overview study of how British society was shaped by the movement and settlement of different peoples in the period before the Norman Conquest and an in-depth study of how British society was affected by Roman or Anglo-Saxon or Viking settlement.

This is at Key Stage 2 (primary school), fertile ground in which to introduce the ‘Romans hadn’t invented steering’ theory pioneered by Leg-Iron. The tinies won’t know geometry, of course, so this’ll make perfect sense.

Perhaps the curriculum can also include such facts as ‘the Romans counted backward’ and ‘everyone before Columbus thought the Earth was flat.’

When LPUK take over the nation, as surely they must do and soon, I’m putting in my bid to be Ed Balls…

May 092009

Further to my previous post about the Sun’s campaign against the M&S ‘boob tax,’ i have discovered a new website:

For a moment, I was delighted – until I discovered that the reason ‘Harriet Harman sucks’ is because she ‘hates men.’

Oh, the poor men! They live (on average) shorter lives, are more likely (on average) to commit suicide, get conscripted into the trenches, and have to suffer under the hideous cultural burden of being providers and caretakers of the family!

Allow me to offer up this (unfortunately untenable) bargain to the gents at, and to any other men out there who think it’s all beer and skittles being a woman: switch places with one of us for a day. I’ll even be generous and let you switch with a Western woman, instead of one of the many down-trodden of the Third World. Then you’ll discover just how lovely it is (what with our living longer and not topping ourselves and not providing for the family) to do things like menstruate, give birth, endure the menopause, have every bad mood or irritable moment ascribed to PMT, be deliberately wound up and then called ‘shrill,’ represent irrationality personified, and suffer the indignity of losing one’s husband in middle age to a younger model.

kthx. Nobody has it that great – men or women – so let’s not whinge on and on about how unfair things are. Life is what it is. Harman goes overboard: at this stage, women are not merchant bankers not because of sexism generally, but because most of them don’t want to be. But men: your shorter life span is a result of the cultural role you assume. If you want to live longer, quit the stressful job of, largely, running the world.

Can we please agree that attempting to treat women as human beings does not discriminate against men, whilst also agreeing that Harriet Harman sucks? I’m sure such an accord would mark the tentative beginnings of a pleasant human experience.

May 092009

Occasionally after work, Mr Smug Git and I repair to the local watering-hole and, lubricated by a pair of pints, proceed to sequester the pub’s copy of the Sun and roundly take the piss until (a) we run out of beer money, or (b) he has to get on the train back home.

Yesterday, most unusually considering the front pages of all the other newspapers in Christendom, the Sun carried no mention on its own front page of MPs’ expenses. Instead, the top stories were something to do with footballers being rude to referees, and this:

DD-Day: THE SUN’S campaign to axe the Marks & Spencer bra tax ended in a stunning victory last night.

‘We boobed,’ say Marks & Spencer. ‘In these times of economic trouble, we won’t charge £2 extra for Bras of Unusual Size.’

The Sun’s ‘Hands Off Our Boobs’ campaign, which I managed to miss entirely whilst it was being waged, appears to have championed a bizarre cause, but now that I think of it, hurrah for the Sun!

Because, for what is not a particularly complicated or cloth-intensive garment, the simple brassiere is one of the most expensive pieces of women’s couture. A rapid search of the M&S website ‘by price’ reveals that the most inexpensive bra they offer at the moment comes in at £8. (If one desires the matching knickers, it’s a further £3.) By contrast, one can purchase two tops for the same price, at £4 apiece.

Good on the Sun, I feel, for ensuring that large-busted women are not penalised by a £2 extra charge. It is bad enough that women fork out for these ridiculous apparatus anyway; those blessed (by nature or surgery) with generous chests shouldn’t have to pay even more for what is, let’s face it, two little triangles of cloth connected by a bit of cheap elastic and wire.

Somehow, however, I doubt the Sun will espouse the other women’s cause that is truly outrageous: the blatantly sexist charging of VAT, however reduced, on menstrual items that only women need – but not, let us remember, on things like Jaffa Cakes.

Tell you what, Ms. Harman: instead of championing economically stupid plans that actually hurt women (over-generous maternity leave, flexible working hours, shoehorning females into top banking positions a la affirmative action, etc), why don’t you take a page out of the Sun’s book and get this tampax tax eliminated?

May 062009

When the recent Bush administration rammed the Patriot Act through Congress, ostensibly to deal with cases of suspected terrorism without exposing the public to unnecessary risk, there were those who said, ‘This is horrible. The Patriot Act makes a mockery of due process. Soon, we’ll see Bush’s political enemies languishing without trial in detention centres all over the country!’

Those same people, who tended to count themselves amongst Bush’s political enemies, breathed sighs of relief audible 4,000 miles away when Obama was elected, and then again when Obama took office. ‘Thank God,’ they said to one another gratefully. ‘No need to worry about terrorism gulags any more.’

So Obama and his enlightened government of Solomons wouldn’t superimpose boot on face, is that right?

From my brother, who has not yet defected, comes intelligence of one such imposition. A 16-year-old boy from East Buddhafuckshire in my home state was dragged out of his house by federal officers on 5 March (for allegedly making prank bomb threats over internet telephone) and removed to a juvenile detention centre half a continent away. No explanation has been given; no formal charges have been laid; no evidence has been put before any judicial figure; there is a gag order on the case – and even now, two months later, this child is still in prison under the provisions of the Patriot Act.


His mother says she feels like she’s living in a Third World country. She never expected to have to protect her children from her own government.

Well, I have some messages to deliver.

To the child’s mother: If you really believed you were safe from your own government, you’re an idiot. Who the fuck but the US government could get at you in the redneck-infested wasteland that is Granville County?

To those who supported the Patriot Act: You dangerous, self-righteous, hypocritical lunatics. Let’s see how you like it when Obama turns it against you, as he inevitably will. Why do you think his government has been re-labelling libertarians as domestic terrorists? And you’ll have only your stupid selves to blame.

To those who loathed the Patriot Act until their christus gloriosus seized the helm of the ship of state: You spineless, hypocritical maggots. Civil liberties are evidently not so important once the jackboot is on your foot! Where is your fucking freedom crusade now?

More on the Patriot Martyr here.