The Curmudgeon


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Don't Look Too Good, Nor Talk Too Wise

There was a point, or possibly several points, during the recession of the 1990s, when the interregnum who did Prime Minister impersonations between the removal of the mad cow and the installation of the foaming poodle tried to find someone else to blame. The interregnum was in a difficult position. Its party had been in power for more than ten years by the time it took over, so it couldn't blame the Opposition; it could not blame the previous chancellor, because the previous chancellor was itself; and it could not simply remain faithful to laissez-faire dogma by sitting back, letting the rabble suffer and hoping the Opposition would lose the next election because it was looking increasingly likely that the Opposition would win.

Its response was characteristically decent: it whined about "doom and gloom merchants" who bad-mouthed the economy, undermined confidence, insulted the Queen, forgot who won the war, and in general did their best to destroy what was left of the country by pointing out the calamitous effect Conservative policy was having upon it. The interregnum's spiritual heir, faced with a rather similar set of circumstances, has responded with characteristic honesty, imagination and political flair: he has urged against "talking the country down", despite (and, presumably, because of) the IMF's recent claim that Britain is worst placed among the developed countries to cope with the economic crisis. "I have utter confidence not only in the British people's determination to come through this, but that people will work together to make sure Britain emerges from this," babbled the erstwhile victor in the war on antiboomibustitude, with his usual Nigerian Handful Guide to Speak British phraseology. He also drew comparisons between the present difficulties and the nineteen-thirties, thus pointing the way towards national optimism.

A prominent feature of the bunker mentality is its clinging to past triumphs and worn-out strategies. Gordon's premiership, unfortunately, has so many past triumphs that he has been forced to fall back on the Britishness thing: "The British spirit is to see a problem, identify it, and get on with solving it"; something that would never occur to a foreigner. "Once a problem hits us we are determined and resolute and we are adamant that we are going to deal with that problem"; a state of mind that is regrettably alien to those many lesser nations who are adamant that their own problems can hit as they please. When Gordon has done his bit for the war against climate change by flying back from Davos, he is expected to meet a representative from the owners of the American economy. Doubtless Gordon will advise him that, if only the Heathen Chinee could be more like the British, they might be nearly as well placed to cope with recession as we are.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Holy Agony

For some reason the Murdoch Times has taken it into its head to interview the Ascended Incarnation of the Vicar of Downing Street, who has been doing such a splendid job keeping the peace in the Middle East. Although not haunted by that day on the sofa when he decided to take the country to war over the weapons of mass nonexistence, Tony does of course reflect on it, and is troubled by it, and feels a great sense of responsibility for it. Did he do the right thing? "Of course you ask that question the whole time. You'd be weird if you didn't ask that question". Actually, given the doings under consideration - attacking an essentially unarmed nation, colluding in the deaths of thousands of harmless civilians, conniving at kidnapping and torture, breaking the military covenant, abandoning those Iraqis who helped and lying to the public - I suspect you'd be weirder if you did.

I see I have called Tony a liar; how very unkind of me. Something else that emerges in this most recent sermon is that Tony does not think it nice to have people distrusting his motives or saying that he lied. It is not clear whether Tony deigns to offer any startling new evidence that he told the truth at any point, other than once or twice by coincidence; so it looks as if he will just have to suffer. However, that is not the most difficult thing: "the most difficult thing in any set of circumstances", such as being out of prison and counting the cash with Cherie, to take a random example, "is the sense of responsibility for people who have given their lives and fallen – the soldiers and the civilians." Like many pious persons, Tony has a great sense of responsibility for people once they are too dead to be a bother - soldiers who don't ask for money to be spent on them that would be better spent on identity cards and nuclear missiles; civilians who have the courtesy to be discreet about their bereavements and mutilations and poisonings. If Tony did not feel that sense of responsibility to the corpses rather than to the living, "there really would be something wrong with me, and there is not a single day of my life when I do not reflect upon it ... many times," while remaining out of prison, having all four limbs and no dead children and counting the cash with Cherie. And, in the judgement of Tony the moralist, "that's as it should be."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

When I Hear the Word Burnham, I Reach for My Revolver

Given the Glorious Successor's ways of dealing with global warming (use more coal), pollution (build more airports), the energy crisis (go nuclear) and the end of the cold war (replace Trident), one might easily expect the Government's shiny new Prolegomenon to a Digital Britain Report to recommend a wholesale return to dial-up internet connections if not manually operated telephone exchanges. Surprisingly, however, besides promising "no new action, but instead eight new reports" (according to Daveybloke's uncharitable spokesbeing for Cultchah), New New Labour does pledge to offer up to 2mbps broadband access to everyone in the country whom the recession has not made homeless by 2012. Daveybloke's Cuddly Cultchah Secretary spattered the parade a bit with the claim that the country's average access speed is already 3.6mbps, and said that the Daveybloke administration would take two more years to supply broadband to half the number of people. The other half, being presumably in prison or the workhouse by then, need hardly concern us at this stage.

Unfortunately for New New Labour, their own Cultchah spokesbeing happens to be the gorgeous Randy Burnham, who believes that internet sites should be age-certified like films and that public libraries should have swimming pools, GP surgeries and a Starbucks or two in the vicinity as aids to cultural renewal. Randy's riposte to his coalition partner's liberal micturitory labour was to regurgitate the usual blather about historic decisions, rewriting rules, challenges, enhancement and so forth; and then, once all that was out of the way, to state that "these are matters of public private partnership. It is not a question of government funding it all". As in less significant matters such as public health and pensions, it is for governments to promise and companies to profit, while the public pays the bill when it all goes wrong.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Defending His Castle

A man whose business failed and who shot his mother dead when the bailiffs came to call has been jailed for life. The judge called it a "highly unusual and tragic case". So far, nobody has described it as an indication of the violent propensities of middle-aged white male gun collectors, or as an indictment of our broken society; nor has there been much talk of the pernicious influence of property or the need for bailiffs to use tact and restraint when making people homeless. It'll all be in the Mail tomorrow, no doubt.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Auntie's Austerities

The BBC is being threatened with a lawsuit on the grounds of racial discrimination for its refusal to broadcast the Gaza appeal - and this in spite of its moral stance being emulated by Murdoch News. The director general, Mark Thompson, who once held "peace talks" with the hero of Sabra and Shatila, has been given a few days to think things over before risking a claim which, according to one lawyer, could run into millions of pounds. Fortunately, since the BBC is not a bank or a member of Parliament, it appears that appropriate measures are being taken. Besides losing their bonuses, senior management at the BBC are to undergo a pay freeze, while the lesser orders will get a "modest" rise - modest, presumably, in comparison with the extravagant two per cent they were hoping for, rather than with anything silly like the cost of living. Supposedly, the idea is to prevent any more large-scale redundancies of the kind for which Mark Thompson has shown such enthusiasm in the past; but, given the choice between laying off a few more staff and facing a multi-million-pound penalty for racism, one cannot easily predict what Mark Thompson and Tel Aviv would consider the most impartial option.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Health Warning

Aside from ending boom and bust and saving the world, the Glorious Successor is also noted for originating the Private Finance Initiative, whereby profit-making companies make a profit and health service customers make do. Now that the banks are no longer lending, despite having been politely asked to do so by both Gordon and his little Darling, PFI is in trouble too. An email from a CEO of one of NHS plc's regional branches notes that "PFIs have always been the NHS's 'plan A' for building new hospitals", and that, as one would expect of a government with no reverse gear, "There was never a 'plan B'". With equally predictable New New Labour dynamism and sense of responsibility, the Minister of Health Privatisation has "asked David Nicholson [NHS chief executive] to go away and think very hard about what happens next".

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Auntie's Agonies

The BBC's convulsions over its sacred impartiality continue. An Observer editorial declares that "Israeli and Palestinian groups both regularly accuse the corporation of institutional bias, which is probably a crude indication that, in its journalism, the BBC gets the balance about right". By the same brilliant logic, if a report that 200,000 died in the Holocaust provokes complaints from both mainstream historians and Holocaust deniers, such complaints would constitute a crude indication that about 200,000 died in the Holocaust. Martin Bell, a former correspondent, claimed that, even after years of being run by Thatcherite apparatchiks of the John Birt variety, a "culture of timidity" is rife in the corporation. Now that the Israelis have decided they've had enough fun for the time being, even a few ministers in the British government have objected to the BBC's decision not to broadcast the DEC's appeal on behalf of Gaza. Only Greg Dyke, the predecessor of the present incumbent, said he could understand why the BBC had decided not to broadcast the appeal, because "on a subject as sensitive as the Middle East it is absolutely essential that the audience" or, better still, Greg Dyke, "cannot see any evidence at all of a bias". Self-evidently, one displays bias only if one disagrees with Tzipi Livni's statement that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Decent People

Daveybloke, the Cuddly Conservative, is the subject of a searing indictment by his alter ego, the Secretary of Deserving Poverty and Pensions Crisis. Daveybloke's ghost-writers placed an article in the Daily Maul on 8 December, raising the question of how to stop all of Britain's two-million-and-rising benefit thieves from turning into kidnappers as well. Now, a mere six weeks later, James "We're Closing In" Purnell has responded, observing that "this is the same old Tory approach of being happy to stigmatise people out of work but not to help them back into work". This seems a little unfair, given that the Tory idea of helping people back into work - slashing benefits to pay the rich - is really rather close to the New New Labour approach. Purnell notes that, for him, "the lesson is fundamentally different. We saw the community pull together and spend 24 days searching high and low for what they thought was a lost girl. And we saw decent people recoil in horror when they realised someone had done something so repellent." Of course, when New New Labour imprisons children for headlines and profit, decent people like Daveybloke and James Purnell are somehow not nearly so squeamish.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Dim Noise

The London Haystack has been scouting out the proposed site for Cloud Boris Land, the new London airport which, under the forthcoming Daveybloke administration, will either complement or replace the sixth or seventh runway and/or terminal at Heathrow, depending which way the wind is blowing and what directorships are on offer at the time. The London Haystack has been reluctantly convinced that any birds in the vicinity of the new airport will thrive, because the airport will be a product of free market economics, under which all things thrive that are desirable. The London Haystack is of course well aware of the desirability of birds, particularly in close and intimate proximity to jet engines. The London Haystack's researches have led him to the conclusion that the new airport will be "absolutely fantastic" from whatever environmental points of view can be encompassed by the intellectual vision of the London Haystack: "It really isn't an issue," he wrote during an in-depth debate on Twitter. The London Haystack also addressed fears of noise pollution, admitting that people might be able to detect a "dim noise from planes taking off". The London Haystack apparently considered this the most difficult issue about the new airport, perhaps because of the impact on house prices.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Always Wear The Happy Face

The future of Britain's fiscal and communications policies has emerged early in the Negatively Evil Republic of Korea, where a man is being prosecuted for implying that the country is perhaps not altogether favourably placed to weather the economic storm. Blogging under the name Minerva, Park Dae-sung unscrupulously posted "largely accurate forecasts" of falls in the stock market and losses on the won. The government has nevertheless detected two occasions on which he posted false information; and, in a brave if belated effort to keep false information on the internet to a minimum, has indicted Park despite the fact that lawyers are unsure about the legal grounds. The South Korean government has made a good start by prosecuting an unemployed man for an offence which may not yet exist; but if it is serious in its wish to emulate New New Labour, it will of course create the legal grounds in very short order.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I Feel the Hand of History on my Collar

World history was made this week, as New New Labour showed hitherto undetected signs of a reverse gear. In the space of only a few days, no less than two of the Government's sillier ideas have been discarded, or at least shelved until a more expedient moment arrives for sneaking them onto the statute books. On Sunday Bomber Hoon announced that Britain's motorways would not be widened after all, which will free up an extra five thousand million pounds for the banks to play with, not to mention a considerable quantity of tarmac for that new runway at Heathrow. Today the Glorious Successor followed up with the announcement that MPs' expenses will not be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, thanks to the spoilsporty tactics of his coalition partner, Daveybloke the Cuddly Conservative, who this week is doing his openness-and-accountability thing, much to the disgust of Harriet Harman and her allies in the 1922 committee. "We didn't think it was right that there should be 1.2m receipts, every single receipt for every ream of paper that is bought should be necessary, and then published", said Harman, a member in good standing of the National Identity Database, Email Snoopery and Involuntary Informational Dissemination Party.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Strategic Overarchingness, Specific Underpinnicity

Even after all this time, there are certain retrograde select committees whose members fail to grasp the nature of the New Labour project. In a country where taxpayers' money is thrown at wastrel bankers while bailiffs are empowered to attack the poor, and where the Government's idea of keeping the planet livable consists in building bigger airports and more coal-fired power stations, it should come as no surprise that we have a ministry of education whose functionaries cannot write English; nevertheless, members of the Commons select committee on unemployed graduates have registered a certain dissatisfaction. Ian Whatmore, the delightfully-named Permanent Secretary of the doubtless euphemistically-titled Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, has conceded that the language in his annual report is "impenetrable"; unfortunately, it is not so impenetrable that it cannot be translated in places. A "reputation for innovative policy-making approaches, fresh policy insights, bold points of view", for instance, means that the department was only set up eighteen months ago and has not yet got around to actually doing anything. A "challenging growth strategy for 2010" means the same as it does everywhere else; namely that things are going to get worse. Happily for the Commons select committee with responsibility for reading Ian Whatmore's prose, he has "promised to bring in advisers" to help him write this year's report. If there's one thing that makes for plainer English in a report, it's multiplying the number of bureaucrats involved in the writing of it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Entirely Appropriate

Well, here's a thing: the Glorious Successor's recent decision that the greening of Britain might not be altogether incompatible with the profiteering of BAA may possibly have been motivated by something slightly other than a cool and objective assessment of the interests of the country at large. Yes; I find it hard to believe, too. Nevertheless, several members of the Commons appear to be developing some rudiments of backbone about it, so the matter is clearly a serious one. There is, for instance, a certain Tom Kelly, formerly a spokesbeing for the Reverend Blair, who is now BAA's head of public relations. There is a certain Joe Irvin, who used to be BAA's head of "corporate affairs", whatever that may mean, and is now "a key adviser to Gordon Brown". BAA employs a "financial PR company", whatever that may mean, which is headed by one Roland Rat, or something of the sort, who is a friend of Lord Mandelbrot the Infinitely Resurrected. There are others, too. Fortunately, BAA note that last week's decision in their favour demonstrates that "government and government alone makes the critical judgements that affect airport growth"; which could hardly have been demonstrated had the decision happened to go the other way.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Considerably More Than Seven Colours

Some years ago, the excellent Michael Greenwell spent some time working in Nepal. When he got back he wrote a sort of alphabetical Rougher Guide for future volunteers, with notes on the country's customs, attractions, food, dung, landscapes, people, politics and pests - as might be expected, the World Bank seems recently to have displaced the leech from champion's place in the last category. Michael has now put these notes together with some other reminiscences, including a risky bit of noise nuisance (Celtic were playing on the other side of the globe) and an unnerving interview with a young guerrilla fighter which culminated in the one question a truly professional journalist would never, ever have asked. The compilation is profusely illustrated with photographs ranging from the snappy to the sublime, and Michael is offering the whole forty-eight pages for download from his weblog. He ought to be charging for it, but he isn't; and even if you have no particular interest in Nepal, I would advise you to give it a look, because it makes very good reading indeed. The title of this post refers to the line I found the funniest, and were I Michael's editor it would be a contender for title of the book.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Come Share Our Danger

As if any were needed, the Israeli airline El Al is offering yet further evidence of the innate good taste and humanity of the Zionist master race. "Now, More than Ever... It's Time to Come to Israel!" exclaims the El Al website, which is offering free car rentals to anyone who expresses their solidarity by opting to spend a holiday amidst the Righteous State's existential peril. The car rental company Hertz, whose logo was attached to the promotion, has already told El Al to remove it, prompting the Independent's reporter to glean selected factoids from Wikipedia.

Friday, January 16, 2009

General Incompetence

A force of conservatism has argued that we might be better off arming our soldiers properly than spending twenty thousand million pounds for the honour of continuing to be an American nuclear missile base. In a letter to the Murdoch Times, three retired generals advanced the shocking claims that New New Labour is wasting money on something of no real use, and that the originators of the ID card scheme, the Titan jails business, the Heathrow expansion plot and so many other paragons of practicality are "driven more by political considerations than by the true requirements of national defence". This is no doubt deeply irresponsible; and, at a time when the sole nuclear power in the Middle East is under existential threat from home-made rockets and the demographic time-bomb of Arab fecundity, may even verge upon the anti-Semitic.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

All We Ask is the Chance to Serve

Just in case you had any doubts about who is meant to be serving whom in this mother of all democracies, the Government has balanced the announcement of the Crowning Injustice Bill with the announcement that MPs' expenses are to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act. The Crowning Injustice Bill is a legislative free-for-all which changes the law on murder, fiddles with the coroner system, protects the privacy of witnesses in gang-related cases and denies it to everybody else on the grounds that, after eleven years of joined-up government, "departments have to put through primary legislation simply to allow winter fuel payments to be made to needy pensioners because it involves two departments". The Minister for Increased Incarceration thinks that "all members of the public are in two places on this" because the risk of personal data being given to a private company in the interests of a minister's future directorship, or simply left on a train in accordance with present practice, is a price well worth paying for not having to give the same information to several different people.

The Freedom of Information Act, on the other hand, has been circumvented via a special parliamentary order by Harriet Harman, in order to prevent taxpayers finding out how their money is being spent. "In return", as the Guardian hath it, "the government is to increase the number of published categories, such as travel and accomodation, which detail where MPs used their expenses." Apparently it's safe for us to know that an MP travelled and was accommodated, but not safe for us to know whether the said MP was on a luxury cruise with a member of the Russian mafia, or doing something corrupt and underhand instead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Just for Some

That the Barons should never be tried except by a special jury of other Barons who would understand.
1066 And All That on the provisions of Magna Carta

The empty suit in charge of the Ministry of Titan Prisons has learned its lesson from the jury's failure to return the proper verdict in the de Menezes inquest: namely, that in cases involving fatal incompetence by official henchmen, it is advisable to dispense with a jury. The suit has revived plans to enhance New New Labour's version of democratic accountability by allowing inquests to be held in secret whenever the Government chooses to invoke the rubric of "national security". The suit also plans to "prevent high-profile convicted criminals from profiting from published accounts of their crimes"; although, as one would expect, the memoirs of New New Labour paragons like Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer will be exempt. Also exempt will be accounts of criminal activities that were never punished; only those who have already served their sentence and paid their debt to society will be eligible for further strictures.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Keeping Mum

The sixteenth Daddy Goodspeak has ordered his former colleagues in the rebranded Holy Office of the Inquisition to draw up new rules for the purpose of distinguishing between true and false claims of visions of Jesus and the Virgin. According to one online source, only those visionaries will be believed who hide their light under a bushel, since the last thing anyone should do with a message from the Saviour or his mother is broadcast it. Those who do not court publicity will be given a psychiatric assessment "while theologians will assess the content of any heavenly messages to see if they contravene Church teachings"; it is not clear whether, in the case of a credible apparition that did contravene Church teachings, the Saviour or the Virgin would be given an opportunity to repent before being excommunicated.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Gap Year

Now that Gordon's green revolution is on its way to fulfilment with missed targets, clean coal, sustainable uranium and lots more airports, the Government has decided that it can do without a major support programme for a year or so. We do, after all, have bankers to feed. Funding for the low-carbon buildings programme, which the Government has organised so well that half the money remains to be taken up, will be withdrawn in June, and there will be at least ten nice, long, clean and sustainable months before the new feed-in tariff programme is introduced in April 2010. Doubtless the Government will do everything possible to make this programme workable, so that life is not made inordinately difficult for the Daveybloke administration which will probably slither into power a few weeks after that.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thieving Fear

Ramsey Campbell's Thieving Fear belongs to what Kim Newman calls the "Four Friends" subgenre, which includes works such as Robert Silverberg's The Book of Skulls and Campbell's own 1985 novel Obsession. As in Obsession, the adult lives of the four main characters are insidiously affected, in deeply personal fashion, by something that happened during their adolescence; but the horrors in Thieving Fear do not result from a Faustian pact, however naïvely entered into. The protagonists, two brothers and their two female cousins, are victimised for no better reason than that they had the misfortune to camp in the wrong place at the age of sixteen, when one of them opened a trapdoor which, in an ingenious twist late in the book, turns out not to be a trapdoor at all.

Campbell's usual concern with language and the misunderstandings arising therefrom is well to the fore, and he makes good use of the mobile telephone - "that devil thing", as one elderly minor character refers to it - as a means of imperfect and sometimes ominously curtailed communication. Although the internet does not figure as largely as in The Grin of the Dark, it does induce one of the book's many unsettling perceptual effects as one of the protagonists, staring at a web page that refuses to load, discovers when he looks away that the blank space is still before his eyes.

The book slips now and then with references to some of Campbell's earlier novels (Campbell, who has rightly deplored the name-dropping obsession of some would-be Lovecraft imitators, really ought to know better); but the climax is a masterpiece of claustrophobia and sinister detail, and mercifully free of in-jokes. One creature does appear which may, in part, represent Campbell's opinion of horror auteurs who (to quote one of Midnight Sun's epigraphs) aim for fear and inspire only disgust; but its appearance is thematically justified, as is the relative ease with which one of the heroines defeats it.

Thieving Fear is, on the whole, another excellent performance by Campbell. Plot is more or less negligible, but this is not a flaw; instead, the narrative focuses on the increasingly nightmarish consciousness of each of the protagonists, building supernatural horror into what are, at the beginning, their thoroughly normal insecurities and fears in the face of everyday life. The petty yet grinding commercial horrors of our ostensibly unmagicked age - in the shape of a vast supermarket owned by a pervasive corporation, and a publishing company of the type that probably forced Campbell to resort to the small presses - make an eminently convincing environment for the eruption of nightmares more buried, though scarcely less rotten.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pooh, Pooh

A former Channel Four commissioning editor and BBC radio producer - tiddley pom - has decided that there is not enough literary parasitism in the world, and that what the world needs now is further adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh. Return to the Hundred Acre Wood will be published in October, both in the UK and at Disneyland. A representative of the Trustees of the Pooh Properties said that the sequel has "captured the spirit and quality of those original books", which apparently are "one of the greatest celebrations of childhood in any language", tiddley pom. The sequel's author hopes that his parasite will "both complement and maintain Milne's idea that whatever happens, a little boy and his bear will always be playing"; as of this moment it is in any case certain that, on at least one side of the Atlantic, at least one Tonstant Weader is already fwowing up.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Righteous Drones

It seems that the Glorious Successor and the Upper Miliband may not be the only British-powered drones to support the Righteous State in its eternal quest for Lebensraum. UEL, alias UAV, an Israeli company based in Staffordshire, manufactures engines for the Hermes 450, an unmanned aircraft used by the IDF for spying and targeting Hamas guerrillas in the schools, hospitals and mosques where they so fiendishly congregate. The company is owned by a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, whose website states that "the Hermes 450 is the Israeli defence primary UAV system" and is powered by a "UEL AR-80-1010 rotary engine"; however, Elbit's head of corporate communications claimed that this was inaccurate and "strongly recommended" that her word of honour as a public-relations officer for an arms manufacturer be trusted. Nevertheless, anti-Semitic mischief-makers such as Flight International's Israeli correspondent and Jane's, the thinking person's Guns and Ammo, persist in perpetuating the calumny.

This trade in modern V-weapons is, of course, entirely legal. The Government's policy on arms sales is to assess the risk that weapons might "be used for internal repression; provoke or prolong armed conflicts or aggravate existing tensions or conflicts in the country of final destination; or be used aggressively against another country", rather than for peace-keeping, pre-emption or meritorious homicide. Accordingly, though the number of refusals for military export licenses to Israel has increased since 2001, the number of exports has also increased, thanks to the moral miracle of New Labour mathematics.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I'll Give You All I've Got To Give

A doctor who donated one of his kidneys to save his wife's life and "turn the marriage around" has only half succeeded: in 2005, four years after the transplant, the wife filed for divorce. Accordingly, along with his share of the furniture, albums and children, the donor wants back the value of his kidney, which he estimates at one and a half million dollars. Experts on medical ethics say his case is "somewhere between impossible and completely impossible", and that monetary value cannot be attached to an organ in the way that it can be attached to, say, a dialysis machine or a life-saving drug. Still, with the Righteous Army bombing schools in Gaza, and Britain's foreign-owned energy companies exporting gas from the UK, thus benefiting the vulnerable by driving prices up in the middle of a harsh winter, it's reasuring to see, elsewhere in the free market, the natural generosity of the human spirit so movingly displayed.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

If Thy Redeemer Offend Thee...

A West Sussex vicar has had a statue of the Crucifixion removed from his church because it implies that the business of being flogged, crowned with thorns, nailed through the hands and feet and then speared might not be altogether fun. According to the Reverend Ewen Souter, "the crucifix expressed suffering, torment, pain and anguish", and thus was not a suitable means of depicting the holy agony. "We need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross"; which no doubt is why the statue is to be replaced with a new, stainless steel image of execution on a cross. "Being made out of coal dust and resin it represents the cutting edge of materials", rather than representing anything anyone might find objectionable. After all, what was Christ Himself about, if not bums on seats? "We're all about hope, encouragement and the joy of the Christian faith. We want to communicate good news, not bad news"; certainly not the idea that seeking redemption can cause suffering or be hard work.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Regime Change

Even in the Righteous State, it appears, there are extremist elements. Some of them are even agitating for the forcible removal of a legally elected government, in the name of what up-and-coming thug Tzipi Livni referred to as "an ongoing, long battle, war, against terror". This particular battle has been so effective (550 terrorists and counting) that more than forty rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza last night, causing such devastation that Britain's leading liberal newspaper finds itself unable to give details. The master race meanwhile suffered seven casualties, including three fatalities, when one of its own tank shells was fired by mistake. Someone, no doubt, will pay.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Police Phish

Date: Mon Jan 05 2009 8:00am Europe/London
To: database-recipients::
Subject: teh innoncet have |\|()T|-|||\|G Tofaer

Dear Policee Comnsumner

this sis special ememaill contnainign \/ | R U S whchcih wlil TRAMSNIT Infromatoin abot yuor copmuter emamal cotnets adn web broswing porno habits to DIstant surviellacne Taem. DO NOT PANIC. threre is no cuase to Panic Yuo wioll not be SHOT ulness Msistakes are made and thenn threre wlil be UNresreved apolololgies. teh INocenent hvae NOT THING NOTHINBG Noththing thing to Fear. teh \/ | R U S inn thisis emamail is Special Viurus for Pedopol pedopil peadiatrics andbd Terrrrrrritsts. alternernatitittitivitily keylogning devizes cnan be Insrted intto to your copmuter to Relay eaeach KY KE y keyhit by teh Trrrrresuit or Podopodophone htat htits it. the Inocncncnet have aNOTHing thing not hinttt to Fare. fear. DFO NT PANIC you wil ll not be shot adn msust be aporvproved by Cheif Contsable Who must bne STatisfided. yuor Pirvacy is Very Ipmortmant to us,.

DO NOT RELPLY TO THIS EMAIL as we donot hvave teh Staff due to moninonitorining Dutys.

Yrs fatfully

big POlice.

PS lockck yr Odors adn Widows n reprort all supspcious Behaivour watch out fror epidophiples hoooooodys torrrerrritststs Bad guys muggers mudrerders bogymen under hte Bed adn DONT PNANIC we donot have teh STAFF.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Gather Together, O Nation Not Desired

Libya, whose ruler is the Middle East Peace Envoy's favourite former mad dog, has drafted a UN statement expressing "serious concern" about the Righteous State's rampage in Gaza and calling for an immediate cessation of all military activities by both sides. Naturally, the United States is opposed to any such statement, particularly if it goes into the Security Council's official records, on the grounds that it might be "similar to a press statement issued by members after Israeli warplanes launched the offensive a week ago that was not heeded". The permanent members of the Security Council have met with Libya to discuss the possibility of issuing another press statement which would assuage Washington's concerns. Some Arabs are expected to appear at UN headquarters tomorrow "to urge the Security Council to adopt a resolution ending the Israeli offensive", which the US will presumably also oppose, on the logically consistent grounds that Israel does not have a very good record when it comes to heeding Security Council resolutions, either.

Meanwhile, courtesy of Haaretz, it is possible to watch Israel's attack on Gaza from the only point of view that really matters.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


It appears that the Glorious Successor may soon have to save the world once more. The banks, which have absorbed almost forty thousand million pounds of taxpayers' money in the past few months, in return for being politely asked to start lending again, have decided they'd rather just take the cash, thank you very much. Accordingly, "options presented to the Treasury are thought to include injecting more cash into the economy and buying banks' 'toxic' assets". This used to be known as throwing good money after bad; but, as so often when faced with New Labour, the traditional forms of language tend to break down. Just as the word corruption fails to cover the blatant, contemptuous criminality of New Labour's business dealings; just as the term war crimes fails to express the casual yet cowardly mass murder which passes for New Labour foreign policy; just as the word apparatchik finds itself grovelling and drooling for mercy when applied to the likes of James Purnell, Ben Bradshaw and Randy Burnham; so the conventional terms for sheer abject paralytic ineptitude must fade into obsolescence before the actions and, especially, the inactions of Gordon and his little Darling.

Friday, January 02, 2009


From the Department of Public Enlightenment, Westminster

At Last...


Intensive, Arduous, Visible™



MORALITY MONDAY is YOUR CHANCE to vote for the punishments to be carried out in YOUR COMMUNITY!

A list of ten Intensive, Arduous, Visible™ punishments will be electronically sent to the email address of every citizen registered as Honest AND Reliable AND Hard-Working on the National Database of Databases. Just mark your FIRST THREE preferences in order of preference and REPLY via YOUR OWN nationally registered email address.

Then, next time you're out shopping to save the economy, watch those ORANGE VESTS appear and do YOUR WILL!

Once the Intensive, Arduous, Visible™ punishment has been completed, you will ALSO be able to vote on whether the ORANGE VESTS have been PUNISHED to your satisfaction, or whether their rehabilitation would be better helped with some EXTRA SUFFERING and HUMILIATION.

Results will be announced on your regional broadcast of Jack and Jacqui's Big Stick on BBC1 at 8:00pm on MORALITY MONDAY!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Deeply Dangerous Man

Hicham Yezza is a deeply dangerous man. He is Algerian and an immigrant, after all. He has lived in Britain for thirteen years, which was jolly cunning of him. A friend of his downloaded an "al-Qaeda training manual", which the US Department of Justice apparently thought safe enough to make generally available, and forwarded it to Yezza for printing. Gratifyingly, this horrible crime was detected by the best police force in the world, and Yezza and his friend were detained for six days, following which the friend was released and Yezza was re-arrested for being an immigrant and scheduled for deportation in eight days.

That was in May and June. However, thanks to the nasty vested interests which cause so much misery to the Ministry of Dawn Raids and Deportations, Yezza has not yet been thrown out. In its exceeding naïvety and innocence, the Ministry seems to have been suckered into postponing his deportation until he had received a fair trial. A fair trial, as we all know, is merely a transparently disgraceful legal dodge whereby guilty persons gain the oxygen of publicity without even necessarily having to be jailed, deported or made to wear an orange jacket at the end of it all. Fortunately, the Ministry has now seen the error of its ways, and has scheduled a new immigration hearing for 8 January. Parliament is in recess, which should prevent any unpleasantness; and Yezza's legal aid covers only the criminal charges against him rather than the immigration proceedings, so that taxpayers' money will be spent only on the necessary, prudent and humane business of removing him from the country.

Rather than follow any of the suggestions here, I am sure we should all be proud and happy.