Archive for January, 2008

No Longer About

They had their detractors, but in pure entertainment terms Game for a Laugh, Beadle’s About and You’ve Been Framed were three classics of the genre.

I’m sorry he’s dead, he seemed like a nice guy and he clearly did a lot of good work for charity. But to say that the aforementioned programmes are ‘classics of the genre’ is a bit like saying that Smash mash is a classic of the disgusting food genre. I remember watching all three programmes. The first one had Henry and Matthew Kelly in it. They were all complete shit. The fact that TV is even worse nowadays does not change this fact, just as getting the a boot up the arse does not become any more pleasurable after you’ve had the experience of being headbutted.

Inaudible Vowel Syndrome

The future looked slightly brighter as final confirmation was received yesterday that war-hungry freak Rudy Giuliani will not be President of the United States.

Christopher Hitchens saw some merit in Giuliani a couple of weeks ago:

Let us give hearty thanks and credit to Rudy Giuliani, who has never by word or gesture implied that we would fracture any kind of “ceiling” if we elected as chief executive a man whose surname ends in a vowel.

He was right to say nothing about this, since fact-obsessed anoraks would have taunted him with the names Monroe, Fillmore, Pierce, and Coolidge.

Foxy

Here you can try and see how good you are at distinguishing Fox News anchors from porn stars. I got 6/10.

Personal? Jesus

My thanks to the individual responsible for the beau geste of nominating me for Best Personal Blog in the Irish Blog Awards. I am touched, since this is the first time I can recall ever being nominated for anything that didn’t principally entail some sort of punishment.

I was looking through the last few months’ content, however, and found that very little of it was primarily ‘personal’. Most of it I would classify primarily as ‘political’, though the distinction between the two is a source of much controversy and really not worth boring the pants off people by addressing here.
Anyway, thanks again to whomever done the deed. I’m glad someone likes what I do here.

Decalogues of Dyspepsia

Aww shit. I spent about 25 minutes writing a post listing the technology related stuff I hate, then I go and save over it another post I was writing about the books I’ve been reading of late.

It went something like this: one of the things that stops me from writing more stuff here is that although I am continually gripped with the urge to write rants and lists of complaint, I fear that to give way to this urge would destroy the image I have of myself as a fundamentally rational person.

A purpose of this page is to provide me with a starting point for my own thoughts, rather than their complete expression. My fear is that if I started ranting and complaining about things regularly, I would be unable to stop. My brain would rot and that by age 40 I would be still ranting and complaining, by then as a trenchant reactionary who called for, among other things, mass deportations of immigrants, and sterilisation of the poorest sectors of society. Ranting and complaining would become an end in itself, and the blog would become a hobby, just as some people alleviate the boredom of modern existence by painting watercolours of Manchester United footballers, or line dancing.

Furthermore, I am cautious about complaining excessively because I know that I am in a better situation overall than the vast majority of people living on the planet.

Considering the above, I think: who’m I fooling? Sometimes it’s a bit of a chore finding material of consequence, but if I packed it in tomorrow, I could still end up as an embittered reactionary anyway, and I’d only have the immigrants to blame. And is not complaining somehow going to alleviate the misery of untold billions?

This leads me to think that I should open up the floor more frequently to my own gripes and frustrations. Why should I let the people who spoil your fun do so twice over?

So, technology-related stuff I hate, which contains some of the stuff I had listed in the previous post, but some other stuff too, which may be of inferior quality to some of the stuff I deleted. My hatred has nothing to do with the functionality of the technology, but rather with what people do with it.

  1. YouTube videos with self-important caption sequences, fading far too slowly and portentously, created by individuals with the editing skills of a crow.
  2. YouTube videos with gaudy introduction sequences, often containing the self-important caption sequences mentioned above, but with claims like ‘This music video brought to you by Pannettone Brothers On-line Entertainment Services’, before fading to a taped video off VH1 or a really crappy excerpt of Family Guy.
  3. Technology as protagonist in news stories. The role of technology in the latest humanitarian disaster/terrorist outrage/doolally starlet banged up in mental health institution story. How Twitter helped Gloucestershire residents tell their families on the other side of the country that their carpets were still safe from the floods! How Islamist terrorists have been keeping Islamist terrorist encyclopedias- on their Blackberries! How famous people use the internet too, as evidenced by a comment left by a famous moron on the Bebo site of another famous moron currently in rehab!
  4. How The Internet Is Turning Us Into Base Ignorant Monsters. Or, buy my deeply intellectual book on Amazon.
  5. Technology Is Enslaving Us! Which is why I refused to have a CT scan in order to keep the oppressive machinery of the state out of my brain!
  6. Technology Is Liberating Us! Or, how my electronic tagging device has me back home for Property Ladder.
  7. Cool gadgets! (oxymoron)
  8. Cool widgets! (even more egregious oxymoron)
  9. The Internet is Bad Because it Allows Nasty People to Say Not Nice Things, and Sometimes Inspires Narcissistic Serial Killers, and You Get Lots of Stalkers on It. (The real world is also Bad.)
  10. The Internet is Good Because if it wasn’t for it, People wouldn’t be able to Hear All The Really Important Things Me and the Online Friends Whose Ass I Kiss Every Day Have To Say.

I could go on, but I can’t be bothered.

Guitar Men

I think I mentioned Richard Thompson’s Dad’s Gonna Kill Me before. Anyway, here it is again. Thompson is probably my favourite guitarist.

I always liked the idea of singers who were also demon guitar players. Certainly not in the same class as Thompson, but a cracking guitarist nonetheless, is Glen Campbell. He has a better voice though.

Here he is doing a slightly corny Beach Boys medley. Beyond his stupendous Jimmy Webb interpretations, I don’t think he ever got the material his talent merited. He needs someone like Rick Rubin to help him put together an album.

Age of Waspism

“If it was white Anglo-Saxon Protestants who were doing this, do you think I would be inert about that? I would welcome restrictions on my own existence if it was going to suppress the level of violence.”

Martin Amis. How fortunate for him that white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are not in any way involved in bombing people to smithereens, excluding, of course, those situations where white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are indeed bombing lots people to smithereens. Also fortunately for him, these white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are engaged in secular acts of bombing people to smithereens, excluding, of course, those situations where they talk about how God inspired them to do it, and where they receive not inconsiderable degrees of support from those who believe that God ordained them to so do.

Ex-centricity

Johann Hari:

Al-Qa’ida is increasingly shaped like the internet, with no centre, just thousands of connecting cables at the perimeter, because it is increasingly a product of the internet.

Leaving aside the perplexing matter of how one might in fact determine the actual shape of the internet, how can something have a perimeter without a centre? Does his idea of a centre come from gravy rings and Polo mints?

The teachers are afraid of the pupils

I came across this story via A Tiny Revolution:

A 5-year-old boy was handcuffed and hauled off to a psych ward for misbehaving in kindergarten – but the tot’s parents say NYPD school safety agents are the ones who need their heads examined.

‘School safety agents’? Handcuffs? Psych ward? Christ on a hang-glider.

I am always reluctant to infer anything about a societal tendency from comments posted on a weblog or a newspaper article, but I couldn’t resist highlighting a few of those that appear on this one:

we as citzens act like it’s so terrible that the child was handcuffed, it has been proven he has a patterrn of misconduct

How can someone yet to learn how to tie shoelaces be said to have a pattern of misconduct?

Maybe if us parents better control our kids then outside authorities will not be forced to make a disicion on whether to handcuff this kids.

Poor authorities: always having to make the decisions for us!

Last week one 5 year old made a pistol gesture of shooting my wife in the head, she is actually afraid to go back and fears for our child.

Eh….

I was not there so I do not know if cuffing the kid was needed.

Yes, statistically speaking, of the millions of 5 year olds the world over, there are bound to be some to be bound. Some of them are 6 ft 5 and carry machetes.

The kid doesnt have like an angel face if you really look closely

They should develop a profiling system to detect little devils early. Nurses performing headlice checks could also look out for the number of the beast.

Stop the cuddling & limp-wrist-pansy ca-cah. WE were spanked since Biblical times;

I wish people would quit the whinnying about ethnic cleansing. WE have been doing it since we did it to the Canaanites.

Seems like the newspaper is attempting to bias the reading towards the childs side.

At last – a voice of sanity! We need to hear both sides of the story here. As a general observation, we never get to hear enough about the rapist’s side of the story either.

The VAST majority of scientists, top surgeons, world leaders throughout the world, etc were also spanked & they turned out OK.

General Suharto was spanked. And he lived to 86!

Everyone wants to defend the poor little 5 year old, but what solutions are you offering?

It’s all very well to say you’re against cannibalism. But if you’re not putting forward serious suggestions about what cannibals should eat instead, I’m afraid you’re part of the problem.

To put the police in a situation where they had to restrain a young boy is unacceptable.

The police are the ones I feel really sorry for.

If I ever cut up at home I would get my a$$ beat, which is why I would never act up in school because then a phone call home would get me a triple a$$-whippen. It’s a cruel part of childhood, but necessary.

The police should be going after the real criminals: the ones who never beat their chilluns’ asses.

Avowal Movements

To be clear: agreeing with the Pope and David Quinn in consecutive posts is not a sign that I am somehow on the turn. However, Mr Quinn has an article about Franciscan friars and religious orders in general, and I have some sympathy with his view that the good they do is overlooked. Yet:

These vows could not be more anti-modern. Vowing never to have sex strikes a lot of us as being a denial of life itself. But maybe that’s because we over-value sex.

But isn’t vowing never to have sex also over-valuing sex? Suppose I take a solemn vow to never eat a Dime bar (or Daim or whatever the hell it’s called these days) for as long as I live because it gets the way of my earthly duties. Others might see this as extreme, but if they do it isn’t because they over-value Dime bars. Yet I seem to think that my abstaining from eating Dime bars means that I can get on with doing my duties, such as halting the moral decline of the human race. And I seem to think that if I don’t abstain from eating them, my project is doomed. Am I not over-valuing Dime bars by denying my own capacity to get on with things? (Some liberal and conservative commentators may reply that there is no ‘moral equivalence’ between Dime bars and sex, to which I reply: it depends how good the Dime bar is, or how bad the sex)

It may not be that sex, or Dime bars, or any other object of desire is over-valued: it may be that vowing itself is overvalued. That’s why the idea of the sacred has to be brought into things: the conditions underpinning any written contract can change, rendering the contract null and void, but you can no more change the conditions of a sacred vow than you can eat your own head. It is a kind of extremism, externalising the responsibility for your conduct: you are no longer accountable to yourself, but to the vow you have made. In the case of Franciscan friars, this is probably benign enough for the rest of us, but the general principle that sacred vows are good can have all sorts of awful consequences. It means, for instance, that you might justify blowing up that apartment block full of civilians because your sworn oath to your homeland demands that you do it.


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January 2008
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